By Meredith Rosenblatt
As a first-time attendee at the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Annual Conference, I anticipated three days of information overload, excellent networking and access to vendors and partners that stood ready to help me and my team do our jobs better. I wasn’t disappointed in these expectations and gained so much more. While each session I attended provided valuable insight into our industry, I came away with several overarching takeaways but none greater than this: connect the dots.
As such, allow me to share the dots that I connected:
Connect the dots: As legal marketers, it can be easy to feel siloed in our work. When we break that mold and start drawing connections between our teams and our attorneys, our true value becomes evident. I attended the “Diversity From the Client Perspective Panel,” where Lia Dorsey, Barbara Miller and Candace Rodriguez discussed not only the importance of hiring diverse attorneys but also mentoring and supporting them once they joined the firm. As a business development manager, I immediately connected the dots to our alumni program, how to showcase our diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices in pitch materials and request for proposal (RFP) responses, and how to better reflect those processes through recruiting. It is also an area to educate my attorneys on as a client talking point. Connecting the dots is all about taking a step back to look at the impact an action will have across attorneys, practice groups, offices or the firm as a whole.
Don’t be afraid to ask why: Why this process? Why this request? Why is this content included? Asking why was a constant phrase from many presenters—from the LMA QuickStart™ encouraging new marketers to ask probing questions of their attorneys to understand the rationale behind a request, to coaching attorneys on how to get to the root of a client problem and provide a creative solution. Asking why serves two purposes. It provides us with additional information to make well-informed decisions and identify reasonable solutions. It also encourages us to avoid the “it’s always been that way” crutch. Just because your current social media strategy is consistently gaining followers and impressions doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
Talk to your clients: This insight applies to both legal marketers and attorneys. Our clients are our attorneys—the more we know them, what they do and what they need, the more we can connect the dots in identifying cross-selling opportunities, collaborative solutions to problems and opportunities to better support their efforts. It also applies to our attorneys—we need to encourage them, and at times teach them, how to talk to their own clients. At the conference’s General Counsel Session, the panelists encouraged their firms to take more initiative in learning clients’ businesses. Alexia Maas, general counsel at Volvo Financial Services, said she and her firms are “not connecting on the level we should be.” The same could potentially be said internally—how well are we connecting with our attorneys? Connect that dot, and ask an attorney “why.”
Start from a place of “yes” and provide solutions: We’ve all heard the characteristics that make us successful as legal marketers: collaborative, proactive and strategic. In reality, it takes time and intentionality to add value to our attorneys and our firms. By providing solutions to known problems—or better yet, anticipating problems and offering preemptive solutions—we can move the needle. It takes effort to identify a problem, gather relevant information and solve the issue. Based on the constant refrain from LMA panelists, however, this effort will set you apart. Allen Fuqua, conference speaker and former chief marketing officer of Winstead PC, said, “The A-players get the hardest projects and the most difficult relationships.” If your job is getting harder, you must be doing something right.
Get involved: The annual conference reinforced that I am never alone in tackling a problem. Someone, somewhere, is facing or has faced the same issue. Reaching out to the LMA network for assistance is one of the best things we can do. Attend local group meetings or regional conferences. Get involved with a Shared Interest Group (SIG) or attend webinars aligned with the Body of Knowledge. Let LMA break you out of your silo and help you connect those dots you might not see for yourself.
Law firms are a unique business setting, and the marketing teams who work there have one focus: help attorneys do their jobs better. We do that better by being the glue that combines all individual attorneys and offices together. Whether you are a solo marketer, a business development manager with a team of 30, or a chief strategy officer implementing a firm rebranding, we all can push our firms—and ourselves—further by connecting the dots.
Meredith Rosenblatt is the business development manager for Burr & Forman, based in the firm’s Nashville office. She joined Burr earlier in 2018 after working several years as a client account manager for a legal spend management firm. Her focuses at Burr include coordinating individual attorney and practice group level marketing budgets, managing practice group strategies and initiatives, and RFP and pitch preparation. She provides analytical and strategic support to allow attorneys to enhance existing relationships and build new ones. Meredith earned her JD from the University of Miami School of Law and her Bachelors in Business Administration in Marketing from James Madison University.