Ten Leaders Cooperative Upholds Ban on Anonymous Posts

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 31 (TLC News) – The Ten Leaders Cooperative, America’s original promotional cooperative for experienced and qualified professionals, reiterated that it has no plans to allow anonymous posts and other unsourced feedback about members on the 7,500 web pages it publishes, according to Stephen Clark, the cooperative’s director.

“We established our policy of no anonymous posts on member pages in 2005,” said Clark.  “We reviewed that policy over the past six months. Despite the explosion of social media and sites allowing anonymous reviews of professionals in recent years, our board decided to retain our current practice of confidentially forwarding email feedback to our members.”

Added Clark, “We’re not interested in free-for-alls” in which anonymous posters try to destroy a professional’s reputation with no risks or consequence to themselves. “Too many anonymous posts nowadays originate from competitors seeking to undermine a rival, from unrealistic clients hanging out their laundry – or from third-party sites consciously trying  to blackmail professionals into doing business with them.”

The Ten Leaders Cooperative was founded by Newbridge Media LLC in 2002 in Fort Lee, NJ. It is headquartered today in Reston, VA.  Today it has more than 5,000 members who are experienced professionals in medicine, the law and finance.

Recent Ten Leaders Profile Additions: NJ’s Maceri, DC’s Weis, NYC’s Kahn

WASHINGTON, D.C. Oct. 23 (TLC News) – The Ten Leaders Cooperative, America’s original qualified promotional cooperative, recently announced the completion and distribution of profiles of three new members.

Joseph Maceri, a partner at Snyder & Sarno based in Roseland, NJ, was recently inducted into The Ten Leaders of Matrimonial & Divorce Law of New Jersey, Age 45 & Under. Mr. Maceri is head of the firm’s Hackensack, NJ, office.


Leigh Baseheart Kahn is a partner at the Manhattan-based firm of Mayerson, Abramowitz & Kahn, by all accounts one of the leading family law firms in New York City.  She was inducted into The Ten Leaders of Matrimonial & Divorce Law of New York City, Age 45 & Under.


Jason Weis is a partner at the Fairfax, VA, firm of Curran, Moher & Weis. He was inducted in September to The Ten Leaders of Matrimonial & Divorce Law of Northern Virginia, Age 45 & Under.





TLC Member Benedict Morelli Representing Tracy Morgan in Accident Claim

NEW YORK, NY Oct. 1 (TLC) – New York City plaintiffs’ lawyer Benedict Morelli represents actor and comedian Tracy Morgan in his civil claim against Wal-Mart, which stems from the June 2014 traffic accident that seriously injured Morgan and left a close friend of his dead.

Morelli was quoted yesterday in The New York Post on the prospects for Morgan’s recovery; Morgan, photographed this week in a wheelchair, is apparently not fully recovered from his injuries. Morelli said “the jury is still out” as to whether Morgan will be able to perform again.

The June accident on the New Jersey Turnpike involved a tractor trailer owned by Wal-Mart, which failed to stop and crashed into the rear of a van limosine occupied by Morgan, friend and fellow comedian James McNair, and two others; McNair was killed in the accident, and Morgan and two others were injured. Reports following the crash indicated that the driver of the tractor trailer had been awake for more than 24 hours.

Morelli was inducted into The Ten Leaders Cooperative in 2008.


Stephen Clark’s Favorite Ten Leaders Profiles

RESTON, VA Mar 4, 2014 (TLC News)  — Since we launched The Ten Leaders Cooperative in 2002, many have asked us to assemble our best Ten Leaders profiles.

Below are ten profiles which, like Ten Leaders groups themselves, are a solid and best-efforts representation. They are of professionals across the spectrum: Lawyers, Surgeons and Finance Professionals.  According to TLC Director Stephen Clark, their stories are among the most compelling – in both a professional and personal sense. “They all share a common element: The subjects were willing to speak candidly about themselves – and they allowed us to share that candor,” says Clark. “They trusted us to tell their stories, with little interference or revision. Not everyone does that.  I think that candor ultimately benefited them. A powerful narrative has a way of distinguishing people.”

Clark added that “Ten Leaders profiles are intended to make a case the professional is a solid example of his or her profession.” Some of the profiles below are also, well, just good stories:

James Duffy & James Wilkens, Civil Trial & Personal Injury Law, Long Island (Developed 2005) — Jim Duffy runs one of Long Island’s most successful personal-injury and malpractice trial-law boutiques. Duffy, even after 35 years as a lawyer, remains wonderfully unstuffy and straightforward.  His story reflects a unique fire and competitiveness, obviously a source of his professional success.


Duffy’s colleague Jim Wilkens has made perhaps the most memorable career ascent of any trial lawyer in America today. Wilkens’s profile was written in 2008:


Sarah (Sally) Oldham, Divorce Law, Connecticut (2009) — Many women in the law will relate to the professional story of Sally Oldham, who surmounted many of life’s biggest challenges to create career success on her terms.


Clay Greene, Divorce Law, Bay Area, California (2010) — Clay Greene of Marin County brings loads of personal perspective to his work – and that comes out in his profile.


Dr. Peter Hetzler, Plastic Surgery, Little Silver, NJ (2005) – Plastic Surgeon Peter Hetzler M.D. is a great example of someone who returned home after getting world-class training – and reaped the benefits. He has run an exemplary hometown practice almost his entire career:


Randy Neumann, Independent Financial Professionals, New Jersey. (2008)  People may know Randy Neumann from his years as a referee of heavyweight boxing matches. His story, like Long Island lawyer and ex-pugilist Curtis Exum‘s, is a tale of how competitiveness and perseverance have a way of defining your life and career:


Robert I. Whitelaw, Divorce Law, Greater Philadelphia (2005): Bob Whitelaw is the hard-nosed managing partner of one of Philadelphia’s top firms – yet, with no PR flack sitting in, he was willing to describe his career and life trajectory with powerful candor, rare for a professional of his stature:


Robert Preston, Divorce Law Age 45 & Under, New York City (2012) – Bobby Preston is well known in New York City’s divorce bar. The personal story he shared – remarkable especially given he’s still early in his career – is close to fearless:


Samuel V. Schoonmaker, Divorce Law, Connecticut (2008) – Now retired, Sam Schoonmaker made no bones how he reached the top of Connecticut’s divorce bar – it was luck and timing, he insists, in a profile that also tells the story of one state’s politics of divorce. It helped that he was a tough and smart litigator who could spot talent:


Betty Thompson, Divorce Law, Northern Virginia (2006): We waited for Betty Thompson to return to her Arlington office from a court hearing in 2006 and interviewed her for nearly two hours. In her 80s and practicing for 50 years, Ms. Thompson didn’t hold back: She called her own clients “greedy” and lamented the erosion of honor and decency – not only among lawyers but in society in general. She was a standard bearer. When Betty Thompson died in September 2012, The Washington Post included a portion of her Ten Leaders profile in the obituary:





Tips For Surviving The Holiday Office Party

RESTON, VA Dec. 2 (TLC NEWS) – Keep the conversation positive, don’t stay too long and don’t drink too much – these are the cardinal rules of behavior at the office holiday party, say experts.  And one other thing: Never talk about job performance, yours or anyone else’s. People attending the party already have an opinion of all that.

Here are some sensible tips for surviving the office holiday party:


SC Trial Lawyer Ron Motley Dies at 68

WASHINGTON, D.C. Aug. 23 (TLC News) – Ron Motley, a legendary trial lawyer known for spearheading the $245 billion settlement against the American tobacco industry in the early 90s, died this week in Charleston, S.C. He was 68.

Mr. Motley was inducted into the Ten Leaders of Civil Trial & Personal Injury Law of South Carolina in 2008.

According to The New York Times, Motley “built a fortune out of high-risk cases … leading the litigation team that helped bring about the largest civil settlement in American history” against the tobacco industry.

Several Ten Leaders attorneys, including Christopher Placitella of New Jersey, were part of Motley’s team of lawyers nationally who litigated the settlement against the tobacco industry.


TLC Launches Campaign for Philadelphia Trial Lawyers

RESTON, VA July 18 (TLC News) – The Ten Leaders Cooperative, America’s original qualified promotional cooperative for experienced professionals, announced this week that it is launching a magazine campaign for The Ten Leaders of Civil Trial & Personal Injury Law of Greater Philadelphia.

The campaign, in Philadelphia Magazine, a monthly magazine, commences in September 2013.

The magazine campaign is the first for a group of civil trial lawyers in the US. The Cooperative currently promotes 43 groups of experienced trial lawyers in regions and states across the US; those groups were researched and created between 2004 and 2011, according to Stephen E. Clark, Director of The Cooperative. Some New York-area groups were advertised in The New York Times from 2004 to 2006, but none were multiple-insertion, long-term campaigns.

The cooperative has conducted ongoing magazine campaigns for some of the cooperative’s 49 matrimonial and divorce lawyer groups across the US. It has also promoted groups in employment law and criminal defense law.

Current campaigns include promotions in Long Island Pulse Magazine, NY Magazine, The Washingtonian Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine and SJ Magazine of South Jersey.

Ten Leaders Cooperative Announces “Member Access” Pages

RESTON, VA. March 13 (TLC News) — The Ten Leaders Cooperative now offers secure profile-development pages for its members, announced Cooperative Director Stephen E. Clark this week.

Members can now develop and amend profiles online, with guidance from Ten Leaders editors. All Ten Leaders profiles must meet the Cooperative’s space and style standards, Clark said.  The “Member Access” pages — accessible on the tab on the TenLeaders.com navigation bar — are password-protected pages. Members must call the Ten Leaders Cooperative main office, located in Reston, VA, to receive password information.

Since its founding in 2002, the Ten Leaders Cooperative has developed and distributed nearly 1,000 professional profiles in the law, medicine, finance, architecture and technology. Today the Cooperative has more than 5,000 members, both active and inactive.

Northern Virginia’s New Generation of Divorce Lawyers

FAIRFAX, VA (TLC News) –She was a lioness of the Virginia divorce bar, for decades both a fearless litigator and distinctive personality. She practiced in Northern Virginia for 60 years. So when she died of a stroke in late September at age 88 – she never retired — Betty A. Thompson left more than simply a void in the profession. “In a way it feels like the end of an era – a long era,” said David Masterman, a Northern Virginia divorce lawyer who for years opposed Thompson. “And I think we’re starting a new one.” In fact, the Northern Virginia divorce-law community – approaching 200 lawyers, by many estimates — has seen a cascade of change in recent years: Since 2008 prominent older lawyers have retired or scaled back their practices. One-time protégés have launched their own firms. And, with surging economic and population growth in the region, caseloads and court dockets have continued to soar. Divorce flings have more than doubled in Virginia’s four northern counties since 1985, to at least 4,000 divorces annually. And by all accounts the profession has grown even more competitive.



TL Advisory: Blogs a Major Commitment, Carry a Downside

RESTON, VA., Re-published Dec. 18, 2012 (TLC News)  — The online revolution has redefined marketing for everyone, as websites, search and digital content today play a key role in the promotion of any business or professional practice.

But blogging — writing regularly for an online audience, to optimize traffic to your website and to show others how bright and reliable you are — poses more risks than consultants and promoters of blogs are letting on. “It’s certainly not something to jump into,” says TLC Director Stephen Clark.

LexisNexis, now owned by a New Zealand company that controls Martindale-Hubbell and lawyers.com, emailed a newsletter to the legal community this month extolling the virtues of blogs by lawyers and law firms.  It promotes a July webinar by law marketer Larry Bodine, who asserts that lawyers will receive “88% more leads from consumers if you blog … and 67% more leads from businesses if you blog.”


The newsletter points out that blogs on law firm sites help boost search rankings by generating a fresh supply of keyword-laden text. It recommends that you be reliable and regular with your posts, be personal in style, and of course re-broadcast all your blog writings to Twitter and Facebook.

According to Clark, a former newspaper publisher and Wall Street financial writer, launching and sustaining a web log for your business is a fine idea — if you have the time, discipline and have a clear idea of your objectives, both for the blog and your practice.

But most professionals don’t, and they shouldn’t make the kind of commitment required to make it successful.  There are serious issues to consider before committing yourself or your practice to blogging. Here are a few:

1) Once you start a blog, you can’t stop, at least without raising questions about why you launched a blog in the first place.  Thus the commitment is not minor. Unlike news sites, blogs offer no  revenues except perhaps Google Adsense advertising on blog pages, which is either inappropriate or won’t pay enough to justify the advertising, says Clark.  “You are entering a new line of business — it’s called publishing,” said Clark.

2) Lawyers and physicians generally have levels of expertise that require years of work — that expertise is valuable, and shouldn’t be paraded out casually online. They should be chary of publishing their insights in blogs, which by definition are accessed by a faceless, nameless audience.  Doing so can degrade their status, and risk cheapening themselves and their services, Clark says.    Further, getting too chatty just makes you look unprofessional, he adds. “If you are any good at what you do, people want to look up to you,” says Clark. By blogging, “your reputation can be damaged without even knowing what you wrote to damage it.”

Here’s another aspect of “too-much-information risk”: We know of several lawyers whose blog posts have come back to haunt them in litigation. “Once you lay details of your courtroom strategy out for the world to see,” says Clark, “it’s inevitable that the other side will use your public comments against you in court.”

Then there’s the digital peanut gallery. Commentaries and opinions common to blogs are open to scrutiny by readers with all kinds of motives. They often prompt exchanges with anonymous readers that devolve into a waste of time — or worse. “That recalls the old saying, ‘Never wrestle with a pig — you both get all dirty and the pig likes it.'”

3)  Average blogs don’t require a lot of time, but very good blogs worthy of high-quality practices require a ton of time. With every post you make an editorial judgment — what to focus on, what style to write with, how much to disclose — and that process takes time. The better you are, the more time it requires.  There is no question that writing helps focus your thoughts, and blogging can be valuable to the writer.  “I know a lot of bloggers who showed they are authorities in their field — and it helped them get a job,” says Clark. Any professional who wants a practice to grow should be focused first and foremost on performing well for paying clients and patients, Clark says.

4) Other online activities are more important. Whatever client-retention statistics consultants pull out to justify blogging, good clients — reasonable, sophisticated people with resources — hire you not because you write a blog or what you post on it.  As the best professionals know they still retain you by referral — and then after vetting you online.  That’s why, Clark says, the issues of site quality and reputation protection are much more important that any web log. A site doesn’t need to be complicated or laden with text — in fact, less is always more — but it must reflect a simple message that conveys your values as a professional.  The site is an extension of you and your practice. And reputation protection — identifying and challenging third parties that post critical, anonymous reviews of a professional’s services, and monitoring irresponsible sites like Avvo.com — is far more important today than blogging.

5) Blogging as a means to raise your standing with search engines is overrated, primarily because you and your firm’s site will always be found when potential clients conduct an online search using your name or your firm name.

If you search by your practice area — “New York Plastic Surgeon” or “Bay Area Employment Lawyer” — your site is competing with a throng of aggregating sites that spend substantial sums to appear on the first page of Google or Yahoo results.  Blogging may improve your position, moving you from say page 5 to page 4, but no amount of blogging will help your site crack the top tier of results, particularly now that Google fills the top of the first page with paid results.  And in any case, according to Clark, listing on aggregator sites tends to attract less sophisticated clients.

6)  Twitter and Facebook are in their relative infancy, and are evolving quickly. Using them requires the same kind of time commitment that a blog does, and like a blog they pose risks as well.  Facebook and Twitter are fine as a mass-distribution tool (indeed, corporations and big retailers moved to Facebook quickly because they could identify and track users) but threading your Blog posts to social media only expands the risks that the blog itself already presents.  “Any professional who seeks a high-quality client base should be careful about committing to a regular presence on Facebook, or regularly Tweeting. There is too much potential for misinterpretation or some kind of backlash. At some point you’ll be tempted to ‘give away’ your expertise. Right now I would avoid both,” says Clark.

7) Blogs produced by third parties — common on the sites of financial advisors, an industry that generates lots of low-cost content and market reports — are not that useful for the sites of high-end professional practices.  Clark doesn’t recommend them,  largely because the professional loses control of the message, and because a third-party blog is even less effective as a search-optimization tool.

8) The bottom line is that there are plenty of ways to demonstrate and project your professional competence, and many are the traditional kind: Speaking before professional groups, teacher and continuing education settings, and writing articles for professional journals.  Your online presence can refer to all of those, and help build your credibility and authority in the digital age.

One example of a useful, steadily produced blog is Charles Abut’s njdivorceblog.typepad.com — a stream of professional developments for divorce lawyers in New Jersey. This blog is a dry recap of court and case-law minutiae, and is clearly not intended for a mass audience. But it serves the purpose of helping position Abut, a longtime independent divorce lawyer and mediator, as a resource of the rest of the divorce-law community.