Challenges Facing the Legal Marketing Departments

Author: Megan Braverman | December 1, 2014

Law firms are constantly evolving to the changing market, and marketing professionals need to adapt to these trends and face new challenges head-on. In the presentation, “Challenges Facing the Legal Marketing Department” at the Legal Marketing Association Texas Conference on November 6-7, panel members discussed some important challenges that we are facing today, providing some invaluable tips. I’ve outlined a few of the highlights:

  • Lawyers are fluid; i.e., loyalty to firms is less important.
  • Business development and revenue are more important than ever. It’s time to get in front of the business, so starting making friends with the folks in the finance department. You should know the answers to: Who are the most profitable partners? What are the most profitable practice areas?
  • “My name will sell itself.” Everyone knows a lawyer who recites this. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Lawyers need to start embracing the marketing and sales process in order to secure clients.
  • Marketing has a seat at the leadership table. That said, being a leader doesn’t require a title, and having a title doesn’t mean you are a leader.
  • Being the marketing “help desk” only eats away at valuable time. For example, fielding requests such as “How do I use our intranet?” or “I need my bio printed,” etc., should be delegated to assistants. When assistants take more of a role in these issues facing law professionals, they start feeling more like an effective member of the firm and provide helpful services in support of the lawyers.
  • Lawyers create so many ideas; don’t always shoot them down. This coincides with the advice Karen Hough mentioned in the opening presentation explaining why you should start saying yes more.
  • Client feedback is very telling.
  • Get to know your law firm business better. Are you going to the attorney’s CLE presentations? Are you reading the publications you should be reading? If you have a substantive understanding of a law firm’s business, you will be more in control.

The panel members each gave us a list of five career lessons to live by:

  • Find a marketing and lawyer mentor.
  • Read the papers.
  • Be visible.
  • Be proactive.
  • Take ownership of your work (be prepared to fail, learn and skin your knees).
  • Seek clarity.
  • Volunteer.
  • Make mistakes.
  • Check your email on weekends.
  • Family first.
  • It’s okay to say “I don’t know” following with “I’ll find out.”
  • Admit mistakes, anticipate questions and recommend next steps.
  • Don’t flip emails, add context and take initiative.
  • Take responsibility for your own professional development.
  • Your priority may not be the priority of others.
  • Mistakes are going to happen. What you do to quickly remedy and learn from them is what counts.
  • Be willing and confident to share ideas with lawyers and your team (don’t always defer to your supervisor).
  • In meetings, always take notes. Never be the person with a blank piece of paper.
  • Flexibility is key. Being able to quickly change direction is key to moving the bull.
  • Negative water cooler talk adds no value. No matter the decision or situation, be a positive influencer.
  • Be genuine and nice.
  • Always be excellent, and never settle for good enough.

Panel members included: Shawn Adams, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer with Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP; Murray Coffey, Chief Marketing Officer with Haynes & Boone, LLP: Amy Miller, Director of Client Relations and Marketing with Cox Smith Matthews Inc.; Gillian Ward, Chief Marketing Officer with Baker Botts L.L.P; and moderator Deborah McMurray with Content Pilot.

Read more about the Legal Marketing Association Texas Conference on our blog:

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