Three business lessons for the house of law

Posted on April 16th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article originally appeared in the Global Legal Post 16th April 2015 and is reproduced with kind permission

The media is presently buzzing about the general election and one of the hot topics being debated within social media is how the property market is going to be affected pre and post 7th May. Listening and engaging in some of these conversations really got me thinking about what the ‘house of law’, aka the legal world and businesses of law, could learn from the property world and subsequently inspired me to share my thoughts with you.

It’s fair to say that professionals involved in the property market continually ride the highs and lows of the property world, not unlike us lawyers in the legal world; the last decade was particularly turbulent and painful, and we’re in a new decade with similar challenges juxtaposed with opportunity. There is an obvious correlation with the property world and legal world where lawyers and law firms face similar ups and downs, challenges and opportunities in business.

I observed (at least) three fundamental things that companies in the property sector did (and do) in order to continually deal with the ups and downs. They:

  • Think outside the house;
  • Act outside the house; and
  • Reinvent the house, where necessary.

Here’s how three companies did exactly the above and successfully steered their way to success.

Thinking outside the house

The founders of Cogress UK Limited thought outside the house / box and came up with a pioneering new investment model to help bridge the gap between the property world and investor (both sophisticated and Clapham Omnibus rider), at a time when the market needed new ways to ensure development build without traditional institutional support. Cogress came up with a solution by creating a property development platform for people to invest their savings with a chance of a higher return than can be found in a depressed stock market, and more.

Effectively, Cogress’s new model enables people with a small investment amount to access a big investment opportunity. This is not crowdfunding, I hasten to add. My understanding is that crowdfunding usually entails huge number of investors dealing in small amounts of £100 onward. But Cogress effectively underwrites equity for the developer where the minimum investment is £20K by an investor from within the vetted community of 17,000 people who choose to invest in a particular development opportunity.

I believe Cogress uses the word ‘community’ because it appears the company is inclusive; in essence they have come up with a winning formula business model to enable developments to go ahead by giving the opportunity to anyone with funds of £20K or more to be part of the property world and develop an interest in a portfolio of properties in prime locations.

Every project Cogress handles goes through a thorough due diligence process, with Lord Mendelsohn residing as chairman of the advisory board which carefully vets each option to ensure the needs of both the investor and developer are met.

Since 2009 the Cogress management team has invested in more than 150 projects globally including UK, US, Canada, Germany, Cyprus and Israel, with over £900 million of asset value.

Interestingly, the people who started Cogress did not come from a professional financial background. They came from a legal and property development background, the staff have a grounding in estate agency and the founding father, Tal Orly, is actually a qualified lawyer. Orly studied LLB law at East London University, qualified and practiced in Israel for 5 years and has been developing properties in London since the 1990s.

Clearly a lawyer with an entrepreneurial streak, Orly also possesses business savvy, not only in creating a new business model but also in his creative, smart and daring approach to spot opportunity.

Curious in identifying value real estate, Orly has a talent for identifying up and coming neighbourhoods aka post-codes of value. He says: “when you think of beggars, you probably think of run-down areas, but the opposite is true. Beggars want to target areas where they know people have money so that they can get pounds for their time.”[1]

Last Thursday Cogress announced it had completed 14 UK deals within a 12 month period, reaching a GDV (Gross Development Value) in excess of £200m albeit the company had only launched in the UK in 2014. The company aims to complete on 20 more deals before the end 2015. The figure reflects the ambition of Cogress and underlines rapid growth in the market. The announcement comes at a time where some analysts are suggesting a potential slowdown in UK property, with the ONS’ January House Price Index revealing annual price increase in retail property is at 8.4%, down from 9.8% the year before. However, Cogress’ rapid growth to date reveals investors aren’t perturbed and still see the market as an astute option.

Tal Orly, chief executive officer at Cogress UK, commented: “Our growth has been driven by the continued attraction of London residential property which, according to ONS figures achieved 13% growth in the last year – an extremely strong performance. We expect this trend to continue, but also for mixed-use and commercial property to improve throughout the year, including our own progress alongside the continued growth of the market”.

Worldwide, Cogress senior management team has completed 170 deals – worth a cumulative £900m – and intends on launching into mainland Europe this year.

We may think Cogress’s approach and ambition beggars belief, but it’s creative and has proven lucrative for all involved. Maybe the house of law can learn from the kind of creative approach taken by this private equity company?

Similarly, businesses of law could bridge the gap between the legal world and the business world by investing back into the house of law, being smart re. gathering investment, devising a new business model and being creative in how to find new opportunities and/or clients.

Acting outside the house

JLL, named recently to FORTUNE Magazine’s 2015 Most Admired Companies List, came up with a strategy to deal with the ups and downs in its market, and its target markets by ‘acting outside the house’. It diversified whilst at the same time began focusing on prime sectors of interest and need.

Rather than being ‘all things to all men’ JLL identified 9 key sectors to serve; the house of law is one of them. There may be a common perception that JLL only acts for Landlords or large Corporate Occupiers in just an agent capacity; there is in fact much more to what JLL can provide including an entourage of consultative services for corporates, investors, developers and residential.

In essence, if we take the legal sector and only a handful of examples JLL’s diversified service offering includes:

  • Deal-maker – taking transactions to the law firm;
  • Helping with pre-merger and post-merger – looking at the buildings involved;
  • Evaluating risk at the start of M&A service – identifying the items and coming up with a strategy; and
  • Consultancy in relation to reconfiguring the workplace and cost of floor space – for example, can you drive better cost efficiencies out of your floor place whether downsizing, sub-letting or growing? JLL helped Baker & McKenzie secure a 237,000 s.f. lease with superior economic advantages, saving them more than 35% on occupancy costs as compared to the earlier transaction.[2]

The law firm sector is faced with just as many business pressures as economic tensions, including fluctuating demand, intensified competition, commoditization of legal work and client demands for more flexible pricing and innovative solutions. Alexander Low, Head of JLL’s Legal sector comments:

“As a result of both these macro and micro influences, many law firms have responded by placing productivity, efficiency and innovation at the top of their agenda. Real estate is increasingly a key ingredient to overcoming these challenges with firms structuring, operating and using real estate to achieve their business objectives ahead. And real estate will be even more critical ahead; firms will need to focus intently on real estate strategies over the next 12 to 36 months as the global outlook only improves for the economy and landlords across the world. Firms will need to counter that momentum with creative solutions and strategies for their real estate needs.”[3]

Accordingly, JLL diversified to accommodate their client needs. Maybe your house of law could diversify to accommodate yours?

Reinventing the house

Founded in 2000, X-Press Legal Services Ltd., a Warrington based family business, supplying solicitors, licensed conveyancers, property developers and auction houses with a full range of property related searches and risk reports to aid the house buying process, had to re-invent its service offering and come up with a new way of selling its prime service as a result of the changes occurring in the legal sector.

David Lister (Managing Director) and his wife Lynne Lister founded the business on three main principles:

Only use good corporate disciplines (no office politics);

Be a bespoke provider (over service the clients); and

No bank borrowings (use available cashflow).

Today, they have grown their business into a respected player in the legal sector and in 2014 produced in excess of 325,000 reports on behalf of 480 solicitors practices, distributed via the Xpress network of 32 regional franchised offices located throughout England and Wales.

Although Xpress is doing exceptionally well as a group, this has not always been the case. As you can imagine the slump the property market experienced in 2006/7, the Government deciding to launch the much maligned Home Information Packs (HiPS) which totally distorted the market, the global recession of 2008 to 2012/13 combined with the Legal Services Act 2006 and competition squeezing the high street law firm client meant that Xpress’s turnover was hit hard and it was challenged to innovate to survive.

Radical thinking culminated in a pioneering and innovative course of action back in 2011. The X-Press social media campaign began, closely followed by a very soft launch of its new bespoke website, www.lawplainandsimple.com in 2013. 2014 arrived and X-Press launched Law Plain and Simple with a social media campaign combined with a sports marketing campaign that goes out on Sky Sports.

Law Plain and Simple, a home-grown website and legal service, was launched as a response to legislative reforms, the demise of legal aid, and the imported challenge to help consumers, businesses and law firms.

It is an online legal information and advice service linked to 400 law firms in England and Wales. The website explains the fundamentals of the law and its standard processes, as well as translating its terminology. It has step-by-step guides covering 39 of the most common legal categories, ranging from property law, bankruptcy, wills and trusts, and business law to guidance about social media and social networking and even image rights.

David Lister commented: ‘We wanted to take the mystique and fear out of the law for ordinary people. The website avoids legal jargon and has been written in very basic English to help people understand the law and how it might affect them in particular circumstances.’[4]

Law Plain and Simple has been written by qualified solicitors. The idea for the website grew out of enquiries from members of the public directly to X-Press Legal Services Ltd. about legal terminology, particularly in the housing market. Co-director Lynne Lister commented: ‘We recognise the importance and value of professional solicitors with their extensive experience and knowledge so we are keen to enhance the service they can provide – not detract from it.’[5]

With the numbers of users (consumers and businesses) visiting the website set to increase significantly due to publicity and awareness raising through offline and online activity by X-Press HQ, its 40 franchisees and 400 law firms in the network, and deals being struck with high traffic websites, this radical new business model and service is a win-win for all concerned – consumers, businesses, law firm clients of X-Press who are in the directory and providing legal articles on the website, and X-Press itself.

Perhaps what the house of law could learn from this property world company is that lawyers who, and law firms that, wish to succeed must possess these three things:

1) The ability to see around corners – to anticipate the radically unexpected; and

2) Create a service or product in readiness for the unexpected; and

3) Embrace a truly customer-centric business model which includes marketing to and providing for (and helping) your clients’ clients.

To conclude; three things the house of law can learn from the property world:

  • Think outside the house; invest in (and with) a new model and be hugely creative and smart to make things happen;
  • Act outside the house; diversify. Introduce new services to compete and stay relevant; and
  • Reinvent the house, if and when necessary; innovate. Find a new way of marketing and selling the same service to be a front-runner.

Taking on board some of the above just might help you prevent your house of law from crumbling or disappearing completely down a sink hole.

Chrissie Lightfoot

Chrissie Lightfoot The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Limited.

Author of Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045 (Dec, 2014)

Author of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell YOU! (Dec, 2010)best-seller.
[1] Mar.17, 2015 Cogress Limited blog post, ‘Signs that a London neighbourhood is on the rise’

[2] http://www.jll.com/services/industries/legal/legal-case-studies

[3] http://www.jll.com/research/119/global-law-firm-perspective

[4] Interview by Chrissie Lightfoot with David Lister and Lynne Lister, 2015.

[5] ibid

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Going One-On-One With The Naked Lawyer

Posted on March 6th, 2015 by Chrissie Lightfoot

Guest post by James Bliwas

So far, 2015 is off to a roaring start for Chrissie Lightfoot.

Today, LinkedIn honored her for “leading the list of most engaged women in the legal sector” and for making the “Top 5 list of overall engaged women on LinkedIn” as well as being one of the most-connected women in any business sector.

She was named an advisor to the Technology Advisory Council in Britain, which shapes the development of the legal profession’s cognitive decision tools such as IBM Watson, and using thought leadership to alert firm management to the people implications of the technology.

Even better, the UK solicitor and leading futurist on the business of law just published Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer to rave reviews. It is a sequel to her best-selling 2010 book.

In the new version, Ms. Lightfoot provides an overview of the dynamics that are forcing a fundamental change in the business of law. She also predicts how they will impact lawyers. In the book, she writes at length about the skills lawyers and their firms will need to brand, market and sell in the most-disruptive period of the profession’s history.

Naked Interview

On Thursday, I had a chance to e-speak with Ms. Lightfoot, going one-on-one with the “naked lawyer.”

Me: What drove you to write the original Naked Lawyer, and now the sequel?

Chrissy Lightfoot: I had a desire to help bridge the gap between the legal world and business world. I felt sheer frustration at the lack of entrepreneurism and dynamism by lawyers to serve their clients fairly and provide extraordinary client service through tapping into their humanness.

I could see that lawyers increasingly would need to market, brand and sell themselves to future-proof their livelihood. As long as 15 years ago, I could envisage a time approaching when their roles would evolve and change as the rise of the machine intelligence would compete and win for their current role.

Me: Why do you think law firms have been so slow to recognize the changes in the business of law, and to do any serious, strategic thinking about how to adjust their business model?

CL: I honestly believe they recognize the changes but most ignore it and pay lip service to doing anything about it.

Let’s just be blunt, shall we? Bottom line, it is the complexities of the corporate governance and partnership agreement, the equity structure of most firms, the culture and mindset of partners coupled with greed which is preventing the change required.

Too many partners with the equity and power are too self-interested. They certainly do see the future. They are well read and advised and bright enough to realize what they need to do to prepare for change.

Unfortunately, they are not prepared to invest in it. They want to continue taking out as much money as possible because, in their own words ‘I don’t care because I’m retiring in one or five or 10 years.’

With this mindset it’s highly unlikely that any positive strategic thinking is done at all. You can’t achieve strategic alignment and buy-in of a new business model when the majority of the partnership is pulling in the wrong direction.

Me: In the book, you talk about the skills that are needed to brand, market and rain-make in a disruptive era. Can you elaborate on what, to you, this means law firms and lawyers ought to be doing – or at least thinking seriously about doing?

CL: Every lawyer needs to become what I call ‘Social Human.’

That is, they and their firm must recognize the value of Social Capital and Human Capital foremost. This requires each lawyer to tap into their Emotional Intelligence, find their true niche, devise the correlating personal brand identity and get involved in social networking offline and in particular online in a big way.

In essence, lawyers will need to be more entrepreneurial, intrapreneurial, creative, collaborative and totally client-centric in order to succeed in the digital, artificial intelligent, robotic and interstellar ages and era.

Ultimately, whether we lawyers like it or not, we will be better off embracing technological developments, the rise of artificial intelligence and robotics rather than fight a losing battle. Machine intelligence can and will help unburden us lawyers from the mundane laborious process-driven tasks that they bill a lot of time doing, and free us up to focus on what really matters and will differentiate us from one another in the eyes of the client and prospect – our creative humanness.

Me: The so-called BigLaw firms seem to think they’re immune to a lot of the changes that are happening in the sector. Do you think they’re right, or is this wishful thinking?

CL: The latter, definitely. You only have to read a recent survey which finds that the UK’s Top 50 law firms lack social media clout to realise that they will come under increasing pressure and competition from SMEs and boutiques that actually ‘get’ what the ‘new normal’ and ‘NewLaw’ is all about.

The new sexy players, new starters and switched on mid-tier SME businesses of law are lean, efficient, determined and hungry to provide the ‘faster-horse’ solution, or even the Holy Grail to the new kind of legal service provision that the legal buyer craves. No business will be immune to the march of Robot Lawyer, Robot Client and Robot Law.

Me: What do you think the profession will look like 5-to-10 years from now?

CL: Very different from what it is today. For starters the who, what, where, when and how legal services are provided will change dramatically.

We will witness the rise of the legal avatar, icyborg lawyer or part-human robot and robot lawyer. That is, we will experience ‘pure blood’ human lawyers working alongside machine intelligent workers in the form of machine or avatar or icyborg or robot within the next decade.

Me: So what questions should managing partners be asking themselves, their partners and the outside advisors they bring in to help them with this?

CL: Quite simply, ‘Will we be around in the next five-to-10 years if we don’t take immediate steps now to future-proof the business and ourselves personally?’

They also need to ask, ‘Are we equipped to deal with the implications and growth of artificial intelligence and robots infiltrating our society, leisure, home, family and working lives?’

‘Are we ready?’

‘Do we want to be ready?’

If they don’t ask and answer these, then they need to be thinking about something else to do with their time.

The XXX Kiss

In the book, Ms. Lightfoot focuses intently on social media and how it is being misused or not used at all by law firms. Looking beyond Twitter, Facebook, even LinkedIn, she insists that the next big thing in social media will be resonance.

She writes, “It’s going to be about context, deep personalization, relevance, resonance, vibe tribes, vibe communities and vibrational intelligence.”

B2B law, short for Business-to-Business, will be replaced with H2H – human to human in the words of Ms. Lightfoot – and H2R (human to robot). I almost scoffed at the notion of “robot lawyers” until I remembered working at a law firm where numerous partners – including some younger ones – objected to having voice mail installed. They insisted their clients would never leave a message with disembodied voice on a machine.

Like sex, it is obvious that she is intrigued by the ability of AI to dramatically improve both business development and client relationships, and she has made bold, intentionally provocative statements.

For example, she predicts that 21st century lawyers need to be sociable and intimate with their clients, or as Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer puts it, the “XXX KISS” referring to what she sees as the three kisses: “Keep it Sexily Serendipitous,” “Keep it Salubriously Serene” and “Keep It Socially Savvy.”

Mitch Kowalski, who writes about law firm matters for Canada’s National Post, was disarmingly enthusiastic in his praise: “It is quite unlike anything I have ever read about the legal industry – or any other industry for that matter.”

Likewise, Stephen Denyer, who chairs The City committee for The Law Society of England and Wales, insists, “… it will have a positive impact on thinking in the legal sector.” And Richard Chaplin, who created and runs the Managing Partner’s Forum, accurately sums up the potential impact of her book by noting, “Lightfoot’s ideas and style will be inspirational for some and totally incomprehensible to others.”

Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer is available through her publisher in the UK.

 

James Bliwas: Strategic Management And Marketing To Help Firms Practice Leaner Law Without Dieting.

James has spent most of his career working in and with law firms on management, marketing, business development and communications issues.

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Robot Santa: do you believe?

Posted on December 18th, 2014 by Chrissie Lightfoot

Chrissiemas message

“In the Christian religion and calendar, Christmastime is a time for the blended embracing of tradition, magic and miracles. Just as children ask their friends the question ‘do you believe in Santa?’ perhaps you should quietly now muse…’Do I believe?’

Not in Santa (no disrespect intended Santa if you do exist, I hasten to add) but in the possibility of magic and miracles pervading our homes, offices, relationships, and lives at any time of year. If tradition and magic can sit comfortably together in the celebration of Christmas, then it’s perfectly feasible that tradition and magic can sit comfortably in law law land, do you reckon?

Traditional lawyering and law together with traditional technology and traditional methods of marketing and networking can blend and exist harmoniously with SocialHuman lawyering together with NewTech, NewHuman and NewLaw as they evolve.

The rate of acceptance in this Digital Age in embracing technology, Artificial Intelligence, and robotics and the transition toward an Artificial Intelligent and Robotic Age may vary incrementally across jurisdictions, nations and cultures but one thing shall remain constant: the human spirit.

The world and law law land will remain human and social.

Our human spirit will differentiate man from machine, in whatever guise.

Graham Green once said: ‘Eventually we have to open the door and let the future in.’ Are you ready?

Abstract from Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045
(released today)

 

As you share the festive holidays with your colleagues, friends and family, don’t forget to take a little bit of time out away from the hustle, bustle and noise for yourself too. For it is in the peaceful, uninterrupted and still moments of calmness when we can draw comfort from our personal intimate thoughts and experience true humanness.

Simply be.

Reflect on all the wonderful and positive things that have happened to you throughout 2014 and realise how special it is to be human and to be truly alive. Only when we realise how fortunate we are to have the gift of life can we then help our loved ones realise it too. You must believe in yourself before you can help those you love and care about believe in themselves too.

This Christmas eve, when the children have gone to bed, when your guests have departed or you are returning home after partying or visiting friends and family, switch off all the main lights and sit quietly in the darkness, save for the twinkling of your Christmas tree lights and look deep within them.

Imagine they are sparkling stars and look beyond the light, yourself and into the miraculous universe. And gently muse ‘do I believe?’ …
‘Do I believe in me?’

For tomorrow’s world will be so different to yesterday’s and today’s that the contrast will be psychologically and organisationally disruptive for us all. None of us have been prepared for it.

That is why I wrote my latest book.

2015 and beyond will be all about how to be SocialHuman, sounding human and being truly human when compelled to embrace NewTech and NewHuman once artificial intelligence, avatars, icyborgs and robots infiltrate our lives and impact our home, family, leisure and working lives, mainstream.

I dare say it will not be too long before the first robot santa pervades our world capable of doing and thinking things that we can only describe as magic.

And so, if you desire to live a truly fulfilling and successful life, whatever you deem that to be for yourself, beyond this Christmas time, I pose the question: ‘do you believe in you?’

I do… for the human spirit is strong.

It’s time to let the future in. Don’t be afraid.

It’s time to search your soul and ask yourself those uncomfortable and challenging questions. Don’t fight it.

It’s time to do something positive.

It’s time for more change.

It’s time to embrace the opportunity that our human evolution is presenting us with.

Are you ready to change your world, or change the world in 2015? For in this ‘age of magic and miracles’, nothing is certain – but anything is possible.

 

May I wish you all the most precious holiday season. Thank-you for your friendship and fellowship during 2014 and I can’t wait to dance with you in 2015!

Warmest as ever  :-)

Chrissie Lightfoot

Chrissie Lightfoot The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Limited.

Author of Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer: NewTech, NewHuman, NewLaw – How to be successful 2015 to 2045 (Dec, 2014)

Author of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How to Market, Brand and Sell YOU! (Dec, 2010)best-seller.

 

 

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Legal Technology Wisdom Rules!

Posted on October 15th, 2014 by Chrissie Lightfoot

A version of this article with the title “How Smart Marketing, Networking & Technology Can Grow Your Firm” originally appeared in Clio -Themis Solutions Inc – October 14, 2014.

In my previous blog post – The Age of the Entrepreneurial Lawyer – I shared with you LexisNexis’s Bellwether Report (2014), Brave New World and its findings that the most successful lawyers (and law firms) are those which focus on building their business through the smart use of marketing, networking and technology.

No-brainer.

It took five years and a heap of legal research time and green notes to prove what my gut and intuition told me five years ago; that the ROAR model IS the solution for success and growth, no matter whether you are a solo lawyer, an ABS UK legal purebred or an ABS international conglomerate mongrel providing a full range of legal, accountancy, tax, insurance and/or business services.

It has now been proven, through MANY research reports in the legal world and beyond (feel free to contact me if you wish to know more) via case studies relating to the bold activities of entrepreneurial lawyers and their businesses of law; epitomised in their bountiful financial results.

Bottom line:

• if you don’t market, brand and sell yourself, aka get marketing, networking and using technology and the internet, you won’t experience the growth your peers are enjoying;

• if you don’t have a voice on the internet, you won’t have a place in the future of law; and

• in an increasingly technological, digital, silicon and robotic legal world, if you don’t embrace technology, you will indeed be committing professional suicide.

Was it Shakespeare who wrote “Let’s kill all the lawyers?”

I predict if he were alive today he wouldn’t need to. If you don’t get a grip with technology per se, you might as well dig your own grave.

I can see the epitaph now: “I wish I’d done more IT Training.”

IT skills are paramount for a lawyer, currently, presently and undoubtedly in the distant future. Very soon, saying NO to technology won’t even be an option for lawyers in Canada.

Even the great man himself, Richard Susskind, renowned for his technological knowledge and crystal ball gazing in the UK and USA, predicts a new role for the lawyer – The Legal Technologist – in his latest book Tomorrow’s Lawyers (published 2012). This kind of role has been happening, by the way, for many years.

As far back as 2008 I have known of many lawyers that have re-invented themselves and transited their role from lawyer to IT trainer, IT Manager, Knowledge Manager, Social Media Manager etc in law firms in the UK, Europe, Scandanavia, USA and beyond.

Significantly, things are progressing at a rapid rate with at least one Magic Circle firm here in the UK hiring its first Artificial Intelligence graduate.

I first wrote about the subject of artificial intelligence and the iCyborg lawyer in the legal world in September 2011. Things have moved on rapidly since then, to such a degree that I feel confident to predict the first Robot Lawyer will be released into the world by 2020. It’s what my research, reading, instinct and gut tells me; reading between the lines of what IBM and Google have shared in the public domain, or more importantly, what they haven’t…

For, as it is in law, so it is with technological advancement. It’s not what we can see that matters. It’s what we can’t.

Truly, we are in an Age where Legal Technology Wisdom Rules!

Period.

I can certainly envisage a time when we will say: “The robot has left the building. Will the last robot out please turn-off the lights.”

Until such time, I have to say that I remain ashamed (as an entrepreneurial lawyer), frustrated (as a consultant and legal futurist) and disappointed (as a legal service buyer) at the slow take-up rate in which law firms (usually hindered by lawyers and ‘support’ staff in power with ulterior motives) embrace the quality and quantity of legal technology available in the global marketplace.

I read recently in Real Business that financial companies are set to increase IT budgets. Are businesses of law, I wonder? Not from my experience these past few years; and certainly not at the rate or scale to keep up with the accelerating technological changes outside of the legal world and expectations of existing and potential clients.

If Millennials are ready for a new financial system, and Stellar might just be it, I dare suggest that Millennials are no doubt ready for a new legal system too; one that operates globally, seamlessly, online and in the cloud.

Perhaps it’s time for a new (global) legal system? If it can be done for global finance, why can’t it be done for law?
I’d love to have a crack at The Law Manifesto for the Digital Age. Wouldn’t you?

Chrissie Lightfoot

The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Limited.

Author of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How To Market, Brand & Sell YOU!

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Lawyers Tick: Mischon follows Branson

Posted on October 4th, 2014 by Chrissie Lightfoot

Yesterday The Lawyer rag (online) reported on Mishcon de Reya’s three-day week revolution.

“Managing partner Kevin Gold has approved three-day weeks and has told lawyers to take unlimited holidays as part of a new agile working programme. Gold has bet on brainpower rather than round the clock working, allowing lawyers unlimited flexibility as long as it doesn’t affect their clients. The programme is aimed at improving gender balance, and the stats show that this seems to be working.”

My immediate thoughts were both positive and negative.

On the plus side, I’m all for innovating (and re-inventing even) when things need improving. Many of you who know my work understand that it focuses on ROAR (Reach Out And Relate) and places the client and extraordinary customer service at the heart of everything.

Accordingly, it seems to me that a new initiative/programme which could in principle benefit clients and lady lawyers, in particular, who yearn to balance their commitments by taking personal control over managing their work (clients), family, leisure and holiday time (ergo requiring flexible working), could potentially mitigate the legal brain drain and effect an increase in productivity, ‘love my job’ feeling and client service excellence.

‘Presenteeism’ sucks, it always has by the way, and it’s about time law firms realise that lawyers (at every level) are grown-ups and are quite capable of working away from the ivory tower desk in this Digital Age and liaising with their clients remotely and/or virtually. An anonymous commentator on The Lawyer‘s report states:

Clients don’t give a damn where you are sitting when you work, what you are wearing, whether you have music on or not blah blah. They pay you for your brain and talent, or not, as the case may be.

In this ‘me,me,me’, client-demanding, client-centric, global commerce, non-stop 24/7/365, ‘must have immediately’, mobile world where we’re all expected to be constantly ‘on’ and available (via telephone, emails and social streams on multiple digital devices anywhere in the world at any time of day or night, weekday or weekend), the work / holiday-leisure divide has been sliced and diced through with a samurai sword for many years.

The concept / initiative / programme (or whatever you want to label it) of unlimited holiday leave is an example of the law needing to catch up with the real world lifestyle change that has already occurred; in business, in law law land, and in life.

IMHO, employment law per se (in the UK or any other jurisdiction for that matter) has not caught up, yet, with how our clients kick and lawyers tick.

On the down side, it could be argued that some partners in law firms have been operating on (and delivering) the equivalent of a three day week for years i.e. underperforming (in real terms), not even justifying their existence on a five day week, let alone three.

I know of some firms (and I am sure you do too – lawyers and entrepreneurs) where they continually ‘carry’ underperforming partners, some of whom also may not be particularly good with client care and/or service, but for a variety of reasons the firm is reluctant to ‘move them on’.

I’m pretty sure that where this exists the morale of the lawyers who are pulling their puddings out is severely affected. No doubt the firm will eventually suffer as these stalwarts inevitably kick-on in a vote of no confidence with their feet, at some point in the near future taking key clients with them.

Call me cynical but perhaps Mishcon is guilty m’ Lord of the Branson effect, that is, a PR coup to simply piggy-back on Virgin’s successful media hype and glean loads of law law land media fuzz and buzz.

For example, is it a ruse, perhaps, for going on a gender bender rampage so that Mishcon can be perceived as the Go To law firm for lady lawyers and at the same time tick the gender diversity box to please their clients and City panels?

Or, maybe, in this over-lawyered (too many lawyers, too many law firms) era of the Entrepreneurial Lawyer, it’s simply The Next Big Idea, to purge the ivory tower of slackers?

For therein lies the nub and rub:

“as long as it doesn’t affect their clients.”

Encouraging their lawyers to take unlimited holiday leave may in fact be the perfect programme for the firms and/or clients to agilely kick the slackers into the long grass to enjoy a permanent holiday with their shiny desk lamps?

Of course, the jury is still out as to whether any number of Branson’s employees and Mishcon’s lawyers press the pilot eject button by seriously taking the mickey. For most conscientious employees and lawyers will be sensible and discerning about their new found freedom of choice with the client rope their pioneering employers have tossed in their direction.

I reckon the message is rather clear:

“Your career and your life, literally, is now in your hands.”

One thing’s for sure, I’m going to lurk in the background in anticipation of reading the first legal dispute case to come to light on this hot PR topic.

Let’s just see how long it takes before other law firms and businesses follow suit, shall we?

Chrissie Lightfoot

The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Limited.

Author of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How To Market, Brand & Sell YOU!

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The Age of the Entrepreneurial Lawyer

Posted on September 29th, 2014 by Chrissie Lightfoot

A version of this article originally appeared in Clio 13th September 2014.

Entrepreneurial lawyering has come of age. Not fiction. Fact.

I’ve just come across LexisNexis’s Bellwether Report (2014), Brave New World,which focuses on sole practitioners, independent lawyers and small law firms and the extent to which they are rising to meet the industry, economic and business challenges in the present and future.

The report identifies new working practices, increased optimism and the emergence of a new breed of entrepreneurial lawyers: “Practitioners are emerging business-savvy, resilient and fiercely independent, with more confidence in the future of their practice than ever before. Rising above the pack, a new breed of entrepreneurial lawyers are embracing the emerging opportunities – and achieving impressive results.”

In relation to performance, growth is higher (55%) amongst the “emerging breed of dynamic entrepreneurial lawyers with top tier pedigree” (13% more than the average respondent.)

It looks like the dynamic independent lawyers who are really shaking things up are focusing on building their business through the smart use of marketing, networking and technology:

“These entrepreneurs are networked, dynamic and ambitious. Often niche specialists with superb credentials, they’ve set up their businesses to compete directly with the major industry players, and they’re frequently winning due to their agility and top-class customer service. Always thinking at least one step ahead, they’re utilising every tool at their disposal to hone their competitive edge – from strategic partnerships and gaining ABS status, to outsourcing for increased efficiency, to harnessing the latest technologies to run their firm and connect with new clients.”

IMHO Cloud-based Law Practice, Legal Case Management Software and CRM systems for Law Firms & Lawyers is one of the best innovations (and latest technologies) in recent years and the ideal choice for entrepreneurial lawyers.Clio and Kulahubare certainly worth a sneaky peek for the aspirant and established entrepreneurial lawyer and business of law.

My personal entrepreneurial lawyer journey began in 2008 when I devised the ROAR sales model befitting for an ambitious and dynamic lawyer in this digital age; it involved honing my niche, the creation of my personal brand (Chrissie lightfoot – The Entrepreneur Lawyer), building a referral network online and offline and delivering extraordinary customer service using technology and the internet. I danced into the offline and online legal and business worlds and online social network scene as an entrepreneurial lawyer serving the entrepreneur of tomorrow, today.

The activities I undertook resulted in a global sales success story. I quickly realised that I had to share the secret; the world (and not just the legal world), after all, in 2008 Q4, had just taken a nose dive off Mount Everest with no financial safety net. We were experiencing a global recession of the kind we’d never seen or felt before.

And so, in 2009 I wrote a series of blog posts and articles suggesting that we lawyers need to become more entrepreneurial and to ‘get naked’. The release of my best-seller book The Naked Lawyer in November 2010 covered exactly this; HOW we lawyers can become entrepreneurial with a step-by-step guide in how to get more clients (and more from existing clients) through mindset-shift, self-awareness (emotional intelligence), devising a niche, creating a personal brand, networking (by building a referral network and via social media and social networks), providing outstanding customer service, possessing business savvy, smart use of technology in the marketing and sales process and constantly innovating.

I have been so very touched and feel hugely blessed and privileged to have received (and still continue to receive) many messages of appreciation, thanks and enquiries from a wide range of readers across the globe who expressed how The Naked Lawyer (together with my articles, blog posts, EntrepreneurLawyer website – and company, EntrepreneurLawyer Limited – and consultancy) has helped them.

Invariably it has culminated in prompting and influencing law schools, universities, associations, legal publishers, consultants, IT/Practice Management/CRM suppliers, law firms and lawyers around the globe to innovate in lots of areas; for example, legal entrepreneurship; legal education; law firm operations; marketing; sales; customer service, finance; pricing; business planning & strategy; legal IT; artificial intelligence and robotics in the legal world.

It has been a pleasure and honour to be asked for the 4th year running to be an entrepreneur mentor and advisor to the brightest, most ambitious and innovative legal minds in 20+ Universities (and law schools) across 20+ countries as a member of the Law Without Walls (LWOW) initiative.

LWOW sprang up in 2009/10 as a community of entrepreneurs, legal practitioners, law professors and law students which focus on innovating in the legal sector. Student participants work together on teams with the guidance of the LWOW community on projects aimed at innovating legal practice and education across the world. It has been featured in Time Magazine, The Financial Times, Forbes, The National Jurist, and more.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the LWOW’s entrepreneurial essence pervades the psychy and influences and motivates the actions of the new breed of entrepreneurial lawyers graduating from its dynamic law schools thereby influencing legal service provision and innovation in this field throughout the world in years to come.

I also recall being interviewed by Preston Clark, A New York based attorney, business consultant and creator of TheLawInsider.com law blog (Top 15 Most Influential Law Blogs.) who wished me to share some of the content of The Naked Lawyer with his readers, and to convey my thoughts on what lawyers need to be doing to ensure their livelihood in the present and future. This was my advice:

“… to develop key entrepreneurial, intrapreneurial (being entrepreneurial within the workplace), technological / digital, commercial and rainmaking skills as quickly as possible.”

In the current brave new world for independent lawyers and sole practitioners, assisting entrepreneurial lawyers to navigate powerful competition and regulatory upheaval with agility, I feel hugely privileged (no doubt alongside many of my friends, colleagues, clients and thought-leaders in their fields of expertise) to have been involved in this new wave of re-inventing lawyering; obviously for the better since these dynamos are out-performing and tearing strips off their peers (research and report here again in case you missed it, courtesy of LexisNexis).

Here’s a HUGE thumbs-up to you if you are reading this and you are one of them. Your clients will love you, as will Uncle Sam and UK PLC…

The UK economy and that of Europe is predicted to be strong throughout this year and next. Similarly, the USA economy is looking positive along with China, predicted to grow over 7%, meaning global growth of 3.5% overall.

Arguably, never has there been a better time for the entrepreneurial lawyer to start-up, whether within a group of like-minded souls or solo, particularly from home using some of the entrepreneurial techniques and technologies described herein. There are Government backed initiatives to assist too. Here in the UK there’s a plethora of entrepreneur success stories, particularly with regard to home-based businesses; so much so we contribute £300bn to our economy. If you hadn’t already guessed, yes, I am one of them…

Yesterday/year (September 2008) I was a lawyer, serving the entrepreneur of tomorrow, today, in a traditional mid-tier law firm ivory tower in Leeds, Yorkshire, England.

Today (September 2014), I am an entrepreneur, serving the lawyers of tomorrow, today, from my luxury apartment home and globe-trotting around the world.

Since my journey began, five years ago, we appear to be witnessing a tsunami of entrepreneurial lawyers throughout the world. The Age of the Entrepreneurial Lawyer has arrived.

Albeit back in 2010 I wrote in The Naked Lawyer that “Entrepreneurs are from Venus and lawyers are from Mars,” I am delighted to be proved wrong…

Lawyers are from Venus and Entrepreneurs are from Mars, says Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer. Agree?

 

Chrissie Lightfoot

The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Limited.

Author of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How To Market, Brand & Sell YOU!

Please note: A version of this article originally appeared in Clio 13 September 2014.

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Re-thinking the LSA & Lawyer Role

Posted on September 13th, 2014 by Chrissie Lightfoot

Re-thinking the Legal Services Act

I’m sat here wondering if every rose truly has its thorn? It appears so…

Hot off the press is Neil Rose’s LegalFutures newsletter in which he says “The Legal Services Act is never far from my thoughts, exciting chap that I am, but in recent days I have not been alone. According to Professor Stephen Mayson, the Act is heading for the regulatory equivalent of the knacker’s yard, while for new Legal Services Board chairman Sir Michael Pitt, it is a “job half done”.”

This sounds more like prose plucked straight from The Naked Lawyer; more provocative thorn than Rose.

But hey, I have to agree with Rose, Mayson & Pitt!

Not a bad name for a proposed new business of law (aka law firm) here either, n’est ce pas? :-)

Moving on…

Re-thinking the role of the lawyer?

There’s been a LOT of stuff written about the changing and evolving role of the lawyer in numerous media these past few years. Accordingly, for my latest musings on the subject (and as my latest blog post) check out:

The Age of the Entrepreneurial Lawyer

But before you do, I recommend you dip your fingers & toesies into the following in this order:

The Naked Lawyer, by yours truly, 2010. Best-seller book in how you can become entrepreneurial with a step-by-step guide in how to get more clients; and more from existing clients.

When Inexperience Is an Advantage, by Richard Branson, 2011

Tomorrow’s Lawyers, by Richard Susskind, 2013. His latest book about the future of legal services and the role of aspiring and young lawyers within it.

The New World of Legal Work
, report by Jordan Furlong, 2014, in collaboration with Lawyers In Demand (BLP),in which it is suggested that entrepreneurs are the future of law.

Brave New World a Bellwether Report by LexisNexis, 2014, identifying new working practices, increased optimism and the emergence of a new breed of entrepreneurial lawyers achieving impressive results.

And THEN…

The Age of the Entrepreneurial Lawyer, blog post by yours truly, September 2014.

Entrepreneurial lawyering has come of age. Not fiction. Fact.

I shall leave you to join the dots :)

Enjoy!

 

Chrissie Lightfoot

The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Limited.

Author of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How To Market, Brand & Sell YOU!

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Re-thinking Social Media & Technology

Posted on September 13th, 2014 by Chrissie Lightfoot

Re-thinking Social Media

I read a LOT of stuff about social media, but the article 10 Surprising Social media Statistics that will make you rethink your social strategy published by Fast Company back in 2013, got my attention because it stated:

“Social Media has overtaken porn as the No.1 activity on the web”.

I still keep referring back to this article, because it reminds me that not only is Social Media and Social Networking a very powerful marketing, engagement and relationship medium, whether for business or leisure, but we constantly have to re-think, and sometimes re-invent, what we are doing.

The world, and online world in particular, is accelerating, changing and morphing at a rapid rate. To be successful requires moving, adapting and being agile within it…

Re-thinking Tech in the Business of Law

Earlier this year the Business Insider raged that 2014 is going to be a huge year for tech. I agree.

It’s been a great pleasure and privilege to consult with and write for Law Plain and Simple these past three years…

Law Plain And Simple

It’s the Naked Portal for legal guidance. Ultimately, Law Plain and Simple is the Go To Law Website for businesses, consumers, lawyers and Law Firms.

Check out the latest sports media campaign you could benefit from!

Oh, and I recommend you join in #TheLegalHour on Twitter @The_Legal_hour every Wednesday 12:30-13:30 GMT.

It’s where consumers, businesses and lawyers chat in real-time about legal stuff affecting all of us. Anyone can take part. It’s great fun and truly informative :-)

Next, I’d like to share with you Kulahub. It’s literally The Naked CRM for Customer Engagement…

Kulahub

I’m an advocate for Kulahub as I’ve been using it for five years. It’s how I am communicating and engaging with you right now :-)

BTW – It’s my birthday this month. Well, it is my company’s: EntrepreneurLawyer Limited. Woo-Hoo!!! :)

Kulahub is brill. If you’re a solopreneur, small or mid-sized business, then this CRM system may suit you well. Here’s WHY.

I reckon I have survived this far in biz due to a combination of continually re-thinking, re-inventing and embracing ‘naked’ marketing, networking and technology.

I can’t thank my friends, colleagues, clients and suppliers enough for their support. More about this in The Age of the Entrepreneurial Lawyer blog post (via Clio); keep reading …

Clio

Finally, you’ve just GOT to take a peek at Clio.The Naked App for Practice Management…

Here’s WHY

It’s the go to Law Practice & Legal Case Management Software for Law Firms, Lawyers and Entrepreneurial Lawyers…

You will be hearing more about this pioneering cloud-based tech this year and next as the company is represented at many of the Law Conferences throughout Europe, USA, Canada and Asia.

I’m even hooking up with them in Japan, Tokyo, next month :) Prrrrrrrrrrrrr …

AND, I am writing for them!

Similar to Kulahub but with a different and complementary product and service, it’s the perfect tech for solo lawyers, small and medium-sized businesses and ultimately the entrepreneurial lawyer…

Entrepreneur Lawyer & The Naked Lawyer readers are eligible to receive a 10% lifetime discount on Clio.

Are you ready to join 40,000 lawyers and legal professionals who have made the jump to Clio?

 

Chrissie Lightfoot
The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Limited.
Author of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How To Market, Brand & Sell YOU!

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Summer Heat

Posted on September 13th, 2014 by Chrissie Lightfoot

Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….

WHAT A SUMMER! It’s been HOT HOT HOT… and I’m not just talking about the highly unusual dry & sunny weather we’ve been lapping up in England since May!

Re-thinking the Tour de France …

I have to say that whether you’re a cycling nutter (like me) or not, you can’t have failed to have been moved by the extraordinary events and pictures surrounding the Tour de France grand depart in my beloved home county of Yorkshire this July!

Hats-off to Gary Verity, the mastermind behind such a major coup to attain such a prestigious contract, his side-kick Peter Dodd (for whom, I quote: “it was all just a blur”) and the entire Welcome To Yorkshire team for promulgating the bold idea, making it happen and pulling it off so brilliantly!

Not only did this event provide a huge boost to local businesses and the local economy at the time, but, moreover, the media coverage surrounding the event has alerted the world to Yorkshire as a premier tourist attraction and place to do business…

I’ve received loads of messages from online social buddies (most of whom I’ve never met in person yet) who witnessed the crowds, villages and stunning scenery during the TDF TV coverage expressing they are truly jealous of where I live and work. I’m confident I will meet them here in person soon!

Yes, I am blessed. But not truly blessed methinks until I can re-live and re-capture the experience all over again, not just actively (riding stages 1 & 2 here in Yorkshire again and again and again – love it!), but passively too, enjoying the memories sat cosily on my sofa with a glass of wine…

It was during one of these delightfully ‘cosy’ encounters that my boyfriend insisted on buying me the commemorative book as a gift for my up & coming birthday; he couldn’t afford a cake large enough to accommodate the number of candles required so decided this was a far better option!

So, if you too wish to pick up a copy and buy the official commemorative book of  Two Days in Yorkshire click here .
It’s positively toe curling!! X

Alistair on “The Road” …

As I’m flicking through Two days in Yorkshire I shall be listening to the CD single and official song of the Yorkshire Grand Départ 2014, “The Road”, written and performed by Alistair Griffin and featuring Kimberley Walsh.
It is fabulous!!! I have (at least) three copies already.

I’m adding them to my unique pieces of Tour de France memorabilia along with a candle, cycling shirt and painting :)

Chrissie on the road…

Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! I’ve been causing mischief on the roads of Yorkshire during the summer cycling along with my friends and generally playing and having a really good time. After all, all work and no play makes Chrissie a very dull naked lawyer!

However, August has passed, the rug-rats have duly returned to their educational prisons (contributing heavy commuter traffic – hence my boycotting the roads on my beloved bike now!), the lawyers have returned from their luxury summer gites and villas, so I reckon it’s time for me to knuckle down and get back to hard-core biz…

Watch this space for a series of blog posts coming to you soon! :-)

Chrissie Lightfoot

The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Limited.

Author of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How To Market, Brand & Sell YOU!

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A Leap of Brand

Posted on January 22nd, 2014 by Chrissie Lightfoot

This article was first published in BrandYorkshire, 22 January 2014, and is reproduced with kind permission.

In the ensuing months I will be posing questions, discussing issues and proffering solutions in relation to Business Development. To kick-off, let’s start with a topic which perplexes and, sometimes vexes, the majority of businesses; namely, branding.

In order to do this subject justice, I’ve decided to write the trilogy series ‘A Leap of Brand’, during which I will share my thoughts, ideas, successes and examples in relation to this fascinating and critical subject with reference to companies, ‘things’ and people across the globe.

We will be looking at company brand (‘Brand – Firm’), personal brand (‘Brand – Me’) and product brand (‘Brand – Product’).

You may be asking yourself, “why these three?” Well, many people have asked me in the past few years “Chrissie, how did you do it? How have you gone from a no-body into a ‘somebody’ who works with top companies all around the world?

How did you do it from a standing start with no money, no connections at the start of the worst recession the world has ever experienced? What’s your secret?”

“My secret?” I reply. “It’s ‘A Leap of Brand’. The secret lies in the brand trio, and the order in which you build the brand in this digital age.”

So here’s the trio and here is the order in which I built a viable, feasible and sustainable six-figure company and lifestyle these past few years:

1) Brand – Me
2) Brand – Product
3) Brand – Firm

Why did I do it this way and why does it work?

• “Brand – Me” and “Brand – Product” build the profile and reputation of “Brand – Firm” by volume and in stages giving depth and breadth to the power of THE BRAND stable.

• It’s highly cost effective and has the most impact this way, fast…

• “Brand – Me” and “Brand – Product” generate the income (provide the funding) for creating “Brand – Firm” and/or re-branding “Brand – Firm”. This is hugely important for companies with limited financial clout; reality for the majority of businesses that simply do not a have a Daddy Warbucks Branding War Chest.

• It’s because THIS is the ORDER your clients and prospects relate to your company. It’s what clients / customers / consumers want in this Digital Age. They buy due to emotion and justify the purchase with logic. It therefore seems logical that you focus building a brand starting with humanness (Brand – Me), share something of benefit / value with the customer (Brand – Product) whereby Brand – Firm is naturally borne from these two.

This is not pie in the sky theoretical waffle, or mumbo-jumbo. This brand trio order works. It works extremely well. It worked for me. It works for my customers. It will work for you too.

And now that various highly credible reports (Peppermint Technology) and research (Eulogy!) have provided proof of what my gut, logic and entrepreneurial spirit told me, no doubt there will be fewer naysayers and more of you willing to take A Leap of Brand.

I shall leave you with this thought. Every interaction you have with someone outside (and inside) your company is an instance of ‘relating’ – or, if you prefer, ‘branding in lights’.

Ask yourself these questions: is each interaction good, bad or indifferent; effective or ineffective; positive or negative; brand-building or brand-destroying?

These are important questions, because branding is not everything, but everything is branding.

Chrissie Lightfoot

The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Limited.

Author of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How To Market, Brand & Sell YOU!

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