Blog/Podcast: Three Ways to Overcome Legal Marketing Challenges
From sailing the ocean to navigating a global law firm merger, Kathleen Flynn has faced her fair share of personal and professional challenges. The Former Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner joined the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast to share some of the lessons she’s learned. Read more below.
- Embrace fear of the unknown
Kathleen and her family took a two-and-a-half-year sabbatical to go sailing, which taught her some surprising lessons about legal marketing. She and her husband took turns keeping watch at night while everyone else slept, so Kathleen spent many hours essentially alone on the open water, feeling a bit scared. During that free time, she started thinking about how many lawyers are intimidated by marketing and business development, and she realized that their sometimes-paralyzing fear of rejection was the same as her fear of being alone on the ocean.
This experience gave Kathleen empathy for anyone struggling with the fear of the unknown—something lawyers dipping their toes into business development for the first time often experience. She also learned that self-talk could completely change the course of her night watch. Negative or anxiety-driven self-talk only made her more scared, while positive self-talk helped her conquer her fear. Lawyers can apply this principle to their professional development, too.
Now in her position as CMO, Kathleen reminds the lawyers she works with that they, in fact, have been marketing and selling themselves even without realizing it. They just need to trust their skills and the foundation they already have—just like Kathleen had to trust her boat and sailing know-how.
- Lean into change
From a marketing perspective, Kathleen played an important role in the merger of U.S. firm Bryan Cave and U.K. firm Berwin Leighton Paisner. Although Bryan Cave was the larger of the two firms, they treated it as a true merger rather than an acquisition; the new firm has adopted best practices from both firms.
This kind of massive change is difficult, and it requires flexibility and collaboration. We’re all creatures of habit, but when confronted with new ways of doing things, it’s important to keep an open mind and be willing to challenge what you know. This is an important lesson for lawyers at any firm, even those not undergoing a merger.
Another important aspect of change? Listening. Change happens much more smoothly when you’re willing to listen to others, without thinking ahead to what you’re going to say next or interrupting with “That’s not the way we do it.” The classic advice “think before you speak” is doubly important during times of transition.
At the same time, you should always be willing to speak up for what you think is right. New and different isn’t always better; sometimes tried-and-true ideas are tried-and-true for a reason. If you’ve listened to your peers and tried to understand their motivations, and you still feel strongly that the wrong choice is being made, don’t be afraid to make your voice heard.
- Take advantage of your resources
A good way to find support is by joining professional organizations, like the Legal Marketing Association (LMA)—but membership isn’t enough. The only way to get value from an organization like LMA is to show up and participate. If you don’t attend events, join committees or share your ideas, membership won’t be of much use.
Membership can connect you with people across the country, too. The legal marketing world has gotten smaller, in the sense that it’s incredibly easy to connect with others in the profession. People can stay in touch in any number of ways, from networking events to Facebook groups, so take advantage of these opportunities and connect with your peers. You never know where your next big idea or job offer will come from.