Wow. I cannot believe I’ve now spent a full lifetime as a legal marketer. When I started at my first firm, back in 1998, we were just launching 2nd generation websites, and I was tasked to shepherd through this program called InterAction (by InterFace). There have been many changes over the years, and, sadly, too many things that have stayed the same.
So, what have I learned these past 18 years? A lot, I am certain. But rather than make a list, I’ll sum my experience and my job up to this, from “The Great One”:
And perhaps that is the difference between good and great legal marketers.
When I arrived at my first legal marketing job (it was a job then, not a career), we did good work. By the time I left, we were doing great work, as defined by Gretzky. We were starting to move ahead from where the business model was to where the industry was headed.
And I just kept moving forward, always playing “where the puck is going to be.”
Eighteen years have gone by. I’ve worked at mega firms, regional law, and boutiques. I have been part of a firm that acquired another, and have been on the acquiring end as well. In these 18 years I have had two kids, two husbands, and survived the Great Recession.
As an industry, we know we’re not returning to the “good ol’ days,” and our law firm leaders (managing partners, CFOs, CTOS, CMOs, CHROs) have all joined forces and are out there leading. But will the firms, and the attorneys in those firms, follow us?
I keep reading depressing story after depressing story of how law firms just aren’t moving in the right direction and the doomsday clock of 2020 has started ticking (Law Firm Leaders Still Aren’t Listening (James Bliwas), or Clients to Law Firms: Most of You Still Stuck in the Past (BTI), or Altman Weil’s 2016 Law Firms In Transition (pdf) survey, or Developing legal talent: Stepping into the future law firm (Deloitte), to link just a few.
Sometimes the depressing stories are so overwhelming that I wonder “What am I doing in this industry?”
And then my inner Pollyanna comes out to play.
I am a change leader. Sure, we’re not where we should be as an industry, but what industry is? We live in rapidly changing times and what worked a year or two ago isn’t going to work today, let alone a year or two from now. I can be a force for good and a force for change, while operating in an industry that prefers the familiarity of “we’ve always done it that way.” And, yeah, it is tough, and when things get tough, the tough get down to business.
So what do I do? I surround myself with Gretzkys at work, in my professional association, and in the group of Legal Marketers Extraordinaire that I have brought together on Facebook. Not only are we headed to where the puck will be, but we’re doing this together despite the disparities of our job titles:
And we take risks:
And when it seems to daunting, we don’t forget:
But at the end of the day, it’s about what we love:
I am in no way the greatest at what I do, but I do my greatest every day. I surround myself with others who are passionate about what it is we do, and we continue to move the ball (or the puck) forward every day. We aim high, and when we get dejected we carry one another through it.
Are we where we need to be? No. But we’re not standing idly by either. Looking back, we’ve come a long way, baby … and the road ahead is still ours to trail blaze.