Since my recent post, "Why businesspeople hate lawyers," I've learned that this isn't just a problem for lawyers in the United States. There's an excellent legal-marketing blawg in Brazil called, unsurprisingly, "marketingLEGAL." (Or maybe it is suprising. Only the title is in English; the blog is in Portuguese.) The blog's author is Marco Antonio P. Gonçalves, a legal-marketing specialist in Rio who is coauthoring a book on the subject. Marco Antonio devoted a recent post to translating my thoughts into Portuguese and expanding upon them. Apparently, lawyers in Brazil face similar problems of popularity, and the trifecta of hourly billing, legalese, and legal-not-business advice are at the root of the problem. (I'm guessing his solution to legalese would not be "plain English." Is there such a thing as "plain Portguese"?)
A note on language: I listen to a fair amount of bossa nova (the Gilbertos, Jobim, Getz), but I don't speak any Portuguese. Fortunately, we have Google to translate foreign-language blogs and webpages. That an online service can instantly convert a webpage into another language with reasonable accuracy is very cool. But it does lead to some amusing false notes. It calls the post "Why business-oriented men do not like lawyers," and it labels "hourly billing" as "collection for the moment." You can read the translation of Marco Antonio's post here.
Working our way across South America, I just got an email from Ivan Cavero, who writes the Peruvian blawg PracticaLegal: Sólo Marketing Legal. (Google's intepreters can give it to you in English here.) Ivan is a legal-marketing trailblazer in Peru, and he came across my post via Marco Antonio's blawg. He's working on a similar post for Spanish readers.
A while back, I heard from Jim Belshaw, a strategic consultant in Sydney, Australia, who writes the excellent and thought-provoking blog, Managing the Professional Services Firm. He's got some good thoughts on work-life balance and associate retention.
Some might be concerned that the problems US lawyers (and their clients) face are shared around the world (or at least, I guess, the Southern Hemisphere). But I find it comforting to know that people like Marco Antonio, Ivan, and Jim are adding to the conversation and helping to find solutions to these problems. So: obrigado, gracias, and ta, mate.