I’ve blogged here and here about the importance of avoiding career redundancy and remaining relevant, tough economic times or not. Whether on LinkedIn, at The Legal Watercooler, or the exhibit hall floor of Legal Tech, I have been asking many of you “What are you doing to avoid career redundancy?”

For me it comes down to a few key points. I MUST:

Understand my clients’ business, and their clients.
My “clients” are the in-house lawyers at my firm. I need to know how the economy, the news, legal trends, and, yes, legal gossip affects them, their business and their clients. In addition, I need to know the same for their clients, as this impacts how my lawyers remain relevant to their clients.

Know the latest in technology.
I need to be able to recommend new or different technology solutions. If I am not staying open and current to the new products on the market, how can I make thoughtful recommendations to my attorneys? I want to implement blogging at my firm, so I started a blog so that I could learn and speak from a position of knowledge.

Be perceived as a thought leader and as a professional.
My relationship with my attorneys must begin with respect. I might not be a lawyer, but I know the business of law and how my attorneys practice law. I am knowledgeable about what keeps them awake at 3:00 a.m. My conversations with them center on the business of law, the economy, politics, marketing and business development. I dress professionally at work, every day. Even on Fridays.

Be open to learning more, even if I have to pay for it.
Most firms will pay for a reasonable amount of continuing education. I make it part of my compensation package, and I actually attend the conferences/lunch programs.

Right now I am investigating GWU’s Master of Professional Studies in Law Firm Management. The program falls outside the scope of what I currently do, but it would provide me with a higher level of understanding as to the business side of a law firm. If I decide to do it, it will be on my dime, but I’ll negotiate the time.

Pull away from my day and show up for my continuing education.
We are all busy. But whether or not my firm pays for me to attend a conference/lunch program, or underwrites my time, it is my responsibility to find the time and show up. Period. No excuses. While on maternity leave at a prior firm, I attended the Marketing Partner’s Forum, newborn and all.

And, here’s why:
At the Legal Tech show in Los Angeles today I was one of only a few legal marketers listening to Charles James, the GC of Chevron talk about his relationships with his law firms. Looking around the room, I believe I was the only in-house legal marketer there, although I did recognize a few consultants. I now know Chevron’s legal department budget, legal spend for outside counsel, what percentage of cases goes to the primary law firms (and how many there are). I know how many law firms they use all together. I also know how his department functions across the country, and how they came together. I know his marching orders from his CEO when he first took the job. I even know what type of motorcycle he rides.

I know what is keeping Charles James awake at 3:00 a.m.

It was well worth the hour of my time.