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The Best of the Breed: An Insider Look at 3 of This Year’s YHA Winners

Posted by Robert Algeri, Heather McCullough and Jacqueline Madarang on Sep 25, 2018 4:22:42 PM


Winners of the 2018 LMA Your Honor Awards discuss their initiatives.

The LMA Your Honor Awards (YHA) is the preeminent annual awards program recognizing outstanding work in the field of legal marketing. This program provides LMA members with a platform to learn about best practices and find out what keeps our industry thriving.

We asked three of this year’s winners to share insights that can help us better market the firms we work with.

Getting lawyers and staff involved with a CRM can be an uphill battle.

How did Kirkland & Ellis overcome this to create an initiative that was broadly adopted?


Maria Black, Chief Marketing Officer at Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Putting our lawyers’ needs and business objectives first was critical to the success of our CRM rollout. Accessibility was critical for lawyer adoption. We wanted to make sure that everything our lawyers wanted from CRM was delivered through automation, or within one click. We talked with lawyers to understand where CRM information and tools would be useful and then strategically laid out the technical specs to build the best solution. We worked creatively to deliver CRM data easily so lawyers didn’t have to dig for it.

We also knew our staff users would be absolutely critical to the success of the program. They play a key role in client service and relationship management at the firm. We wanted to ensure they understood how important their contributions to this new and exciting program would be and that CRM wasn’t just another piece of software they were required to learn. Our CRM communication and engagement program was developed to encourage a sense of community among staff users. It’s also a great outlet to deliver important initiatives and progress reports around the program. 

Kirkland is a large firm with more than 2,000 lawyers. It’s important to have tools in place to prevent connections and opportunities from slipping through the cracks. Kirkland360*CRM plays that role, and keeps our lawyers across three continents in the know about who we know, how we know them and what we are doing with them. The CRM has become a part of everyday life at Kirkland that helps support collaboration — a core Kirkland value — among our lawyers.

Developing business from both current as well as prospective clients is at the heart of most firm strategic initiatives.

How was the Marketing Incentive Program at Morse Barnes Brown & Pendelton rolled out to lawyers and staff, and what were the results?


Jaclyn Braga, Director of Marketing at Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton

With the goal of increasing participation in firm marketing and business development, Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton’s marketing team developed the Marketing Incentive Program (MIP) aimed at motivating employees firm-wide to feel engaged and invested in marketing efforts. In addition, the MIP was established to enrich reporting capabilities of lawyer initiatives. We predicted that providing incentives would make lawyers more likely to report their actions, allowing for improved reporting on a broader level.

The concept is simple: Reward firm members for reporting the marketing they’re already doing, and encourage them to set and reach new goals. The marketing team created a points-weighted rubric of marketing, business development and social media goals ranging from LinkedIn “shares” to prospective client pitches. We wanted to emphasize that we are all “marketers” on behalf of the firm, whether we are answering phones or providing legal services. At rollout, every employee received a guide to earning points, a list of goals and the initial reward order form featuring branded items such as jackets, hats and notebooks.

Since commencing the program, we have noted improved engagement in several areas. Social media activity has increased exponentially, with LinkedIn “shares” and “impressions” reflecting an astounding surge and engagement with the firm Twitter account increasing by more than 300 percent. We can now report on a broader range of client-facing activities as well, such as lawyer/client lunches and cross-marketing opportunities. While the most popular goals attained by staff and paralegals are social-media related, industry (i.e., LMA) event participation has also increased.

What makes the MIP unique is the whole firm participation concept, which is a key to its success. Interestingly, the firm employee with the most points at the end of 2017 was a paralegal who demonstrated real marketing savvy. She redeemed her earned points for branded journals, and then sent the journals to firm clients, further bolstering the client relationship. 

What might be of particular interest to smaller firms is that the MIP didn’t break the bank nor require any additional staff. Utilizing strong vendor relationships and a customizable application to track, reward and improve behavior, we were able to create a MIP with minimum administrative burden and maximum results.

A case study on the MIP was presented at the 2018 AAM Summit in May.

Holiday cards — they’re something we all have to deal with, whether as a firm-wide initiative or with individual lawyers who require our assistance.

How did Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt take something that could have been standard and create something stellar?


Courtney Marti, Marketing Communications Manager at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt

Daria J. Fine, Senior Brand and Digital Specialist at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt

We wanted our holiday card to be memorable and delight our network while also thanking our clients for their business. In order to create a unique greeting, we built a multilayered user experience based on the time and interest of our audience. We created a cheerful and humorous, results-based quiz that focused on the stress of the holidays. The viewer could retake it and get a different answer within a matter of minutes, enabling its repeat and viral nature.

For those who wanted a deeper experience, the supplemental printable survival guide had a variety of holiday activities, ranging from trendy coloring pages (inspired by Schwabe’s client industries) to family holiday games. By making it actionable and sharable, our holiday card’s stickiness and longevity (time in the hands of the client) extended beyond initial viewership.

We also used the theme of the card and the survival guide to share with clients at our holiday parties and as internal gifts for other departments.

We know we hit the mark with our clients with feedback like:

  • “LOVED this! SO clever and fun!”
  • “Thanks for sending this to me. Well done, as always!”

“For all the lame Christmas cards, stale cookies and other junk I get around this time of the year, I think Schwabe’s cartoon videos are the best.”

Thank you to everyone who submitted a project to the 2018 YHA judges for consideration. Your outstanding work keeps us all energized, focused and excited about the future of this profession. Kudos to each of you!

Be sure to view all of this year’s award-winning projects on the LMA website.

Robert Algeri headshot

Robert Algeri is a co-founder of Great Jakes, a marketing firm that develops “smarter websites” for large and mid-sized law firms.


Heather McCullough headshot 2

Heather McCullough is a partner with Society 54 and offers innovative coaching and consulting solutions for professional services firms.



Jacqueline Madarang headshot

Jacqueline Madarang is senior marketing technology manager at Bradley, a national law firm with 500-plus lawyers in nine offices, where she leads the firm’s marketing technology and digital marketing efforts.


Robert and Heather were this year’s YHA co-chairs and Jacqueline was one of the YHA judges. Meet the rest of the 2018 judges.

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Strategies+ is your online resource to discover exclusive content on the state of the legal marketing profession that goes beyond Strategies magazine, including:

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