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Thankful for inspiring colleagues and clients

October 10th, 2014

Skunkworks Creative Group

Thankful for inspiring colleagues and clients

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to slow down and reflect.  As the seasons quickly change, it can be easy to get caught on autopilot, and forget about the good that is going on around us. Two individuals we have the pleasure of knowing and working with, Doris Chin, and Joe Murphy, Q.C. are helping to give back this Thanksgiving season.

Skunkworks own, Doris Chin, a cancer survivor, took to the streets with the “iDDy biDDY tiDDy” team, for the CIBC Run for the Cure. Raising over $1600, Doris and the team of 12 are featured below. Congratulations to the team on completing the run for the 4th year in a row, and bringing awareness to an important cause for so many people and funding to continue the research necessary to find a cure.


On October 4th, Child Haven International celebrated its 25th Annual Fundraising Dinner with great success. The event was sold out (again!), thanks to efforts by volunteers and supporters like Joe Murphy, Q.C. of Murphy Battista LLP. Joe helped fill the benefit with three tables of people and made the rounds to make sure the silent auction items were well advertised.

Child Haven International assists over 1,000 women and children in four countries in need of food, education, healthcare, shelter, emotional, and moral support. CHI also seeks to improve the lives of women through direct employment, education, medical aid, and training opportunities. Additionally, they do it all based on a Ghandian philosophy that, among other things supports gender and class equality as well as mutual respect for cultures and religions. It’s truly a “no strings” attached outfit.

Our Client Services Director, Marni MacLeod, was lucky enough to secure a ticket and was treated to superb Indian food prepared by volunteers with food and drink supplied by yet more volunteers. In addition to the food, attendees were treated to live marimba music supplied by the Kumbana Marimba band. Moreover, she discovered that Joe was being honoured as one of the original group of 15 people who helped to make this annual dinner a reality and who have continued to support it year after year.

CHI founders Fred and Betty Cappuccino were on hand to thank everyone who has consistently worked to make the Vancouver event the most successful fundraising dinner on their national tour. Fred shared an update on what CHI has been doing and how people can continue to help and Betty made sure he didn’t forget about the funds needed to complete a third floor for their highly successful tailoring training program! This is one incredible couple. Listening to them talk about their work with passion, humility and unfailing good humour was a pleasure. They are the definition of humanitarians and we applaud and support the great work Child Haven International is doing.

Interested in supporting Children Haven International or getting involved in Run for the Cure? Please take a look at the links attached.

CIBC Run for the Cure

Child Haven International 

A big thanks to Doris, Joe and everyone who made these wonderful events possible and thank you for sharing your commitment with us. You remind us that working for the benefit of others is truly its own reward. Happy Thanksgiving. We wish you all a warm and happy long weekend.

Posted in Client News, Inspiration | Comments Off

What to Wear – Fashion for Lawyers

October 1st, 2014

Skunkworks Creative Group

What to Wear – Fashion for Lawyers

Not Naked

We all have to wear clothes to work. What we choose or are required to wear says a lot about our employers, our professions, our wealth, and social expectations. Many professions are defined by their clothes. Lawyers are traditionally included in this group, albeit not as obviously as fire-fighters or doctors.Vancouver Lawyers in Gowns

Lawyers generally wear business suits. While women have some flexibility, most men will wear a blue or grey suit with a tie. Pinstripe is the camouflage of lawyers in amongst the financial towers, where the big firms hunt for deals that they can “facilitate.” Black or brown leather shoes will ensure that your feet are properly ignored. The risqué male members of the profession will act-out with elaborate ties or socks while women have been known to express themselves with their shoes or scarves.

The rigidity of these expectations varies according to the market. The attire sported by Vancouver lawyers is well-diluted from the formality on display in Toronto, London, or New York. Our relaxed law firms have even been so bold as to wear blue jeans on the occasional Friday. This must seem downright revolutionary to certain audiences.

Cost & Tradition

The idea is to look professional. That is the word that is most often used to describe what lawyers should wear. Look good without actually being noticed. Professionalism will ultimately depend on the specifics of a lawyer’s practice. Social sorting applies just as much within groups, with tax lawyers trying to distinguish themselves from environmental lawyers.

I have another word to apply: expensive. Lawyers need to dress particularly well because it instils confidence and justifies the cost of their services. Because many legal matters lack definitive measures of success, clients need to think that an hourly rate of several hundred dollars can be justified. A senior lawyer sporting Harry Rosen’s or Holt Renfrew’s best looks like a million bucks – or at least like $350/hour.

The cost of professional clothing is built-into the cost of hiring the lawyer. Besides buying expensive clothes, there is also the ongoing cost of dry-cleaning. These costs are overhead for the firm. It is no different from an extravagant lobby or a photocopier.

Another reason that lawyers dress the way they do is because they always have. Solicitors have worn business suits for as long as there have been solicitors. This has created some confusion as women have entered the profession. Women haven’t be able to fall back on such conveniently conservative expectations. It certainly doesn’t help that the fashion influences for lawyers are drawn from accountants and bankers, groups not exactly known for their design instincts.


I have thus far not acknowledged the most publicly recognizable form of legal attire: tabs and gowns. These are only worn by litigators (aka barristers) who actually go to court. In Vancouver, this is a minority of all lawyers. Unlike our American counterparts, Canadian lawyers continue to wear these black gowns with white tabs (collars) to court hearings. They are not a requirement in all proceedings or at all levels of court. The idea is that it provides a reminder to all present of the solemnity of the occasion. It also helps focus the court on legal arguments rather than curvaceous appeals. There is also our sentimental attachment to the UK and to tradition. On the other hand, gowns are alienating to the public and ensures that the court institution itself in no way follows modern social norms.

At least we don’t still wear wigs.


Aside from gowns, there have been efforts to establish uniforms for lawyers. They have failed. The theoretical advantage of this option is that the uniforms themselves could be tax deductable and would make daily style decisions more manageable and egalitarian. The opposing arguments are ultimately very similar to school uniforms. Our local history has conclusively sided with the no-uniform for lawyers camp.

What to Wear

The legal profession is changing. Fashion will follow suit. As legal services stratify with the introduction of retail fixed-fee models and ultra-premium bespoke legal services, I expect we’ll see lawyers wearing different things. On the low-end, I imagine that firms will seize the marketing opportunity presented by legal uniforms. Business suits are here to stay on the high-end. Looking good isn’t only a matter of vanity. Clients need to trust their lawyers. This trust is directly connected to professional appearances.

BUT, appearances only matter when you see someone. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the practice of law involves increasingly less face time. The appearance of your email signature may have a bigger impact than your tie. Instead of dressing according to infrequent client meetings, my sense is that lawyers should dress for their average day and then plan on dressing-up as needed. This saves on high-end clothes and drycleaning (overhead), while ensuring that you’re actually comfortable for your work day. While comfort means different things, you should at the very least dress according to the seasons. My solution is as follows:

Fancy Pants Law

Keep several good suits in your office. On a daily basis, wear a comfortable shirt (dare I say a t-shirt?), comfortable shoes, a belt and very fancy pants. The pants are your nod to professionalism even while you lounge behind a desk sending emails. Be prepared to switch to your suit in a moment’s notice. You heard it here first…fancy pants. Fancy pants law.

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Posted in Law, Professional Conduct | Comments Off

In Content Expertise, Clients Trust

September 25th, 2014

Skunkworks Creative Group

In Content Expertise, Clients Trust

The Internet is great place for building relationships. Business relationships.

Building relationships, in turn, is about trust. Often trust and engagement go hand in hand. If you want a potential client to engage your professional assistance, build their trust. If you want a potential client to trust you, start by trying to connect with them. Here are 7 key principles to keep in mind.

1) Consider your voice. And use that voice consistently. You may work with clients who are dealing with difficulties or stressful matters. Accordingly, balance a voice that is both professional and welcoming.

2) Understand your platform. You may have a number of great articles but not much in the way of photo content when it comes to your expertise. Don’t feel like you ought to use photo based platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram just because they are there. This means you tax lawyers. Pick the channels that best allow you to add value to the viewer. If you are fantastic at writing, write a blog, or try tweeting.

Content marketing 3) Consistency. Similar to real life, you are more likely to gain trust by being consistent and reliable rather than flashy.

4) Add Value. While it is important to maintain a channel, don’t feel you have to post a blog/picture/tweet when you don’t have something valuable to say. Fewer well crafted blogs, newsletters, and the like may have more impact on your readers than several written just for the sake of producing content. Think about what your reader is looking for, and tailor your content to make it worthwhile for them.

5) Engage. Social media is social. Don’t be afraid to participate. If someone likes your Google+ post, or asks you a question over Twitter, write them back.

6) Pick your platform(s) wisely. You may be a wonderful photographer, but if you aren’t adding value to your clients, reconsider if the platform is right for you. Also consider how often you can engage meaningfully, and how often your viewers can listen. Just because you can write 5 blog posts a day, doesn’t mean you want to post to the point of saturating your viewers.

7) Search savvy. To help provide engaging and relevant content, search for terms common to your business or service. Social mention, and topsy, for example, allow you to see what is trending right now and can help you steer your next blog post. This will also help you avoid recreating existing online content.

While you may be hesitant to start because you don’t want to risk your reputation or use a social media channel incorrectly, keep in mind that you can start slowly and see what channel or strategy works best for you.

Posted in Marketing Strategy, Professional Conduct | Comments Off

.Lawyer Domain Names

September 24th, 2014

Skunkworks Creative Group

.Lawyer Domain Names

Lawyer Domain  Names

We routinely advise lawyers on domain name selection. My boilerplate recommendations are:

  1. Think about your email address first and your website second;
  2. Don’t be a slave to search engine optimization (SEO);
  3. Don’t register dozens of domain names if you only need one; and
  4. Choose something distinguishable from your competitors.

There are, however, occasions when new questions emerge. The introduction of .Lawyer and .Attorney generic top-level domains (gTLDs) presents just such an opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Digital Marketing, Google, Law, Law firm websites, Marketing Strategy, SEM/SEO | Comments Off

Put Your Firm on Display

September 23rd, 2014

Skunkworks Creative Group

Put Your Firm on Display

What is display advertising?

You’ve likely noticed banners including text, logos, pictures or rich media when visiting some of your favourite websites. These are referred to as display ads. Imagine a traditional magazine ad with a few unique advantages. Google Display ads allow for flexible ad formats, targeting options to connect with your audience, and a price-point that scales down to small businesses. Another key advantage -you can track the performance of your campaign to measure your clicks and conversions. In terms of advertising, hard numbers beat a “pay and pray” approach. Finally, if someone wants to know more about your firm, it is as easy as a click through to your website. Google Display Network Sample Ad

Sample Ad for Google Display Network

Personal Injury Ad for Taylor & Blair Personal Injury Lawyers

Google Display Network Sample Ad

When should I use display advertising?

The Google Display Network (GDN) allows advertisers to place ads on sites across the Internet ranging from the New York Times, to cooking blogs, to cat videos on Youtube. With Google’s acquisition of Doubleclick in 2007, the GDN became the largest ad-serving network on the Web. As such, the GDN is an appealing way to expand your online presence, build brand awareness, and test creative efforts prior to traditional print campaigns. Viewers of GDN ads tend to in browsing mode – whether catching up on news or reading an article they found on social media. Accordingly the key here is to create an ad that will gain the attention of your desired audience. In most cases, actual traffic through to the site of professional services firms will be incidental to brand awareness efforts.

What about those ads that follow me around the Internet?

Perhaps you visited a website last week and now an ad for that website is showing up when you are browsing other sites. This is called remarketing. Remarketing is a powerful way to connect with individuals who have already shown an interest in your service and can help bring your brand to mind when they are ready to buy. If this makes you weary because you’ve had a remarketing ad follow you to the point where it is creepy, annoying, or both, you will be happy to know you can put a cap on how many times an ad shows. The reason that Google offers this service and that companies pursue remarketing is because it works. That said, we advise firms to use the technology sparingly to avoid alienating prospective clients. There is a happy medium.

Why is the google Display network good for gaining brand awareness?

1) The GDN is big. Really big. While the placements change on a daily basis, there are currently over 2 million sites in the GDN. This means that there is a good chance that we can find appropriate sites to run your ads without having to contact individual websites for ad buys.

2) You won’t simply be shooting in the dark. If you are providing a legal service, it doesn’t do much for you to have your ad showing up on blogs about baking. Google understands this and allows you to target your ads based on audience characteristics, website groupings, or specifically selecting sites where you’d like your ads to show.

Google Display Network Leaderboard Ad

Kelly Russ Vancouver Family Lawyer Display Ad

3) By appearing on sites that are popular amongst your target audience, you are able to familiarize people with your brand. For example, they may not need a family lawyer when they see your ad, but your brand will be familiar if they subsequently separate from a spouse and start making inquiries about hiring a family lawyer.

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Posted in Digital Marketing, Google, SEM/SEO | Comments Off

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