By Priscilla Martindale
In my advocacy role for LMA’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee, I spotlight firms and people who are pushing the envelope to engage in exceptional D&I initiatives others can benefit from. In this Q&A, Chad Cole, client development manager at Jackson Walker (JW), shares how his firm developed a unique and successful D&I campaign through the distinctive use of video resulting in stronger recruitment, client growth and respect for differing perspectives among leadership, while increasing community impact and bolstering an inclusive firm culture.
Before diving into this Q&A, be sure to watch JW’s D&I video campaign, linked here.
Video isn’t often considered a channel to deliver D&I messaging. Why did JW choose this platform?
Our objective was to tell our story and reflect on our history, while focusing on our future. We wanted to do it in a way that captured people’s attention, while providing others with a glimpse of our leadership team. Our managing partner, Wade Cooper, has been with JW since 1981. His perspective on our firm’s growth — from 55 people in Dallas to more than 400 across seven cities in Texas — and the evolution of our culture was essential to share. This was also an opportunity to introduce Suzan Kedron as the incoming chair of our D&I committee, and to share her vision and views on the importance of diversity and inclusion.
"Our objective was to tell our story and reflect on our history, while focusing on our future. We wanted to do it in a way that captured people’s attention, while providing ... a glimpse of our leadership team."
Was it difficult to get your lawyers to support this initiative? How was the decision made to move forward?
Bruce, along with his legal administrative assistant, originally produced the D&I report. As the firm’s marketing and business development (MBD) team grew, the department assumed responsibility for preparing and distributing the annual report. It was Suzan’s idea to produce a video to complement this year’s report, and it was her first project as the newly appointed chair of the D&I committee.
A diverse range of lawyers were featured in the video. How was it determined who would be spotlighted? Were most people enthusiastic about participating?
With more than 400 attorneys to choose from, the decision of whom to include was difficult. We focused primarily on partners, those heavily involved in firm leadership and active members of their local communities. To guarantee a diverse range of lawyers, we interviewed people from our four largest offices: Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. All were generous with their time, despite competing client demands, and positive with their support.
How long from fruition to completion of the video, and what costs were involved?
It took about two months, from start to finish. We partnered with the same video production company from a 2018 project, which heavily streamlined our efforts, and planning began in November 2019. Attorney selection to determine who would participate, including refinement of this list (based on client responsibilities), took about a week. Filming at our first location began in mid-December and our final set of interviews conducted at the last location took place in early January of this year. The following weeks consisted of editing and producing the video, which wrapped by the end of January. We premiered it in early February 2020.
The cost of the video was surprisingly reasonable. Producing in a simpler style and focusing efforts on stories (rather than special effects) allowed the video to be cost-effective. Outside of filming and editing, many elements of the project were done in-house, including scheduling and conducting interviews. In total, we spent less than $10,000 USD for aspects of the project we outsourced. All other phases of the project were handled internally by our MBD team without additional cost to the firm. The filming and editing provided content not only for the D&I video but also for two additional videos.
What was your strategy for promoting the D&I video and report?
Maximizing on ROI was our objective and we focused on repurposing and promoting content in various stages and ways. We premiered the video and launched the 2020 report at our annual partner meeting in February. The D&I page of our website was redesigned to include graphic elements of the 2019 report to enhance cohesion between the two. The video was integrated into our website and linked to the full report. Features of the report and snippets of the video were disseminated and promoted through social media, which our lawyers then shared with their clients. Lastly, we highlighted this same material in an internal newsletter called “Perspectives,” which we launched as part of this initiative. The second issue was distributed internally on June 30, 2020, and was featured on our website.
What results came from each medium and what is your firm most proud of?
The response to the video and report has been overwhelmingly positive. Since launching, we’ve seen an increase in engagement levels, including:
- Unique D&I homepage views increased nearly 24% for H1 2020 over H1 2019
- Time spent on D&I pages has increased nearly 25% for H1 2020 over H1 2019
- Our D&I video is our most watched video over the past two years
- Our reach has been excellent — D&I website visitors have come from 34 states and 15 countries
- Visitors are using our D&I page as a launching pad to also explore web content, including our firm’s JW2 women’s initiative, attorney bios, and careers and pro bono pages.
We are proud to share what we already know, that JW is a great firm with an excellent inclusive culture. Every member of JW matters and they have a voice and access to all levels of firm management. These mediums of video and annual reports provide a vehicle to convey these messages.
What takeaways can you share with other legal marketers if their firm is interested in producing a similar video?
The biggest hurdles were the short turnaround time, from inception of the idea to delivery of the video at our annual partner meeting, and the challenges of coordinating multiple attorneys’ schedules when filming. These are not deterrents so much as they are typical aspects of a marketing project.
I also learned the acronym “COPE” at a past LMA conference. Create once, publish everywhere. This is my mantra with content. If you are lucky enough to get attorney time on a project like this and they are willing to speak on camera about what matters to them, make the most out of it by asking a wide range of questions during the interview phase that can be applied to multiple initiatives and used in multiple contexts. Asking general, high-level questions outside of D&I-specific questions for this purpose was imperative. Firm management will also love you for thinking strategically and stretching the dollar making it easier for you to introduce your next big initiative.
Priscilla Martindale has more than 10 years of experience in firm management and is the marketing and business development manager at Richards Buell Sutton LLP, the oldest law firm in British Columbia, Canada. She collaborates with the firm’s executive team to plan, lead and implement strategic client-centred marketing initiatives while overseeing the daily operations of the department. She provides direction to practice group leaders and client teams through business goal-setting, and oversees a business development program for associates. Priscilla is a member of the BC Legal Management Association (BCLMA).
A longstanding and proud member of LMA, she has been a presenter and panelist at chapter events, served back-to-back terms for three LMA board and committee positions, including co-chair of programming for the Vancouver Chapter in 2013 and 2014, chair of the Western Canadian Region Nominating Committee in 2016 and 2017, and most recently LMA’s D&I Committee, from 2018 to present. She has served as president of LMA’s Vancouver Chapter in 2015, prior to the chapter’s national amalgamation, and was the only Canadian to sit on a judging panel in this same year for LMA’s Your Honor Awards; a program honoring contributions of innovative marketing by members for the advancement of the profession legal marketing community.