As I wrote about the other day, the Board of the Legal Marketing Association has voted to “sunset” three awards and recognition programs: Hall of Fame, Your Honor Awards, and Rising Star. Our website highlights these programs under the banner of “Celebrate.”

So my questions to the LMA Board are these:

  1. Why is it no longer part of the mission or strategy of LMA to “celebrate” our members and our achievements?
  2. When was this decision made, and why were key stake holders not consulted or informed, including the committee chairs, regional and local presidents in advance? Only the HOFers were informed the evening before the member announcement.
  3. What research has been done to support the decision?
  4. Why is this taking place immediately?
  5. Why no opportunity for members to weigh in?
  6. Do you consider your process a best practice that legal marketers should emulate in their firms and companies?

Between my various in-boxes and the number of hits to my website and LinkedIn posts, not to mention the several threads in the LME Group on Facebook, this is a topic that LMA members care about and we deserve answers. I have received dozens of requests to join LME since yesterday morning (please send me your Facebook email address with your request). This is not going to go away.

What I want to know next is this: Where are the official voices?

Silence is not always golden. Transparency is. 

LMA Board members sign a confidentiality agreement/NDA when joining the board. This has led to a practice of a “cone of silence” to the point that one board to the next many times has no idea as to the “why” decisions were made.

Sure, there’s some continuity between one board to the next, but from personal experience, decisions are made and it often times is on the backs of a board twice or trice removed to implement a new program–or, in this case, the removal of three programs.

Once again, what is the “why” behind this decision? When was it made? And skip the “board-speak.”

I agree with your goals of more education and advocacy. But neither of these admirable goals has anything to do with celebrating our members and our achievements.

What is the vision in all of this? If the LMA member is no longer the “client” who is? And how did you get to that decision?

The silence from the Board is deafening. Sadly, that is expected.

Taking a Stand

I have on more than one occasion told a managing partner, “I am happy to be the bad guy, but you better back me up.” I am extremely comfortable with conflict to the point where I will blow things up. I’m not afraid of people not liking me, or unfriending me on Facebook. I know my out-spoken nature makes many people uncomfortable, but that’s the point. In a team dynamic I am a conductor. I see clearly what is wrong and I want to fix it. And there is so much wrong with this decision, not to mention the process.

Gift from an LMA past-president and HOF member

I have spoken with several of my Hall of Fame colleagues, and I can assure all of you reading this that they are committed to having this decision by the LMA Board reconsidered. They are our voice, and we need to stand behind them and openly support their positions. One LMA member who wrote me put it best: “The members of the Hall of Fame ARE the authority in legal marketing.”

We also need to stand behind Jabez LeBret, the current co-chair of Your Honor Awards, who has spoken out publicly. He and his co-chair Robert Algeri have put their hearts and souls into YHA to heighten and expand the educational aspects of these awards and deserve our support. I ask our YHA winners to share publicly what the award has meant to them, their departments, and within their firms.

And Rising Stars, speaking for myself, I have found my greatest sense of self has come when publicly standing up for a cause in which I believe. I want you to know that I believe in you and your program, and I will do my best to see it restored. You are the future of our profession and deserve to know the LMA that I have known for these almost 20 years.

What is truly shameful is that the leaders for HOF, YHA, and Rising Stars–not to forget our regional and local leaders–were not part of the decision making process to dismantle these programs (the term “sunset” is so offensive). In fact, as of today, the committees and the co-chairs are still listed under LMA Leaders.

And if any member of the current board dissented from the vote, or is ready to change their mind, know that there is a large majority who are willing to support and back you.

Ban the Slate

We have got to clear this dysfunction of making decisions under cones of silence, just trusting that those making the decisions are doing so for a good reason. I have zero doubt that they are all acting with the best intentions, but the lack of transparency is not healthy.

Our leaders are being CHOSEN for us by a group of like-minded friends. I was called upon to help reform our elections process several years ago, and it appears it is time again to reform our elections process.

I personally will be voting no to any slate proposed, and I will be reviewing our current governing documents to see if there is a means to write in a candidate or propose an alternative slate.

LMA is a MEMBER organization

LMA is first and foremost a membership organization. The voice of the member should be heard, not ignored, nor discounted.

  • Ann Lee Gibson

    Hear, hear, Heather! Thank you.