Posted by: johnocunningham | October 7, 2011

What Law Firms Want From Their Marketers

A few years ago, I asked a panel of managing partners at a national conference, “What is the one thing that you most want to see in your marketing department that is lacking?”

The answer, in my view, was pretty ironic. They unanimously stated that they wanted to see “more understanding of our business and our profession.”

The irony here is that marketers are always telling lawyers to learn about the client’s business and learn about the client’s industry. But it would appear that marketers are not always taking their own advice.

Some of my informal follow-up conversations in the months that followed that event confirmed for me that this concern was not peculiarly related to that panel either.

Thus, the challenge I would pose to my professional marketing friends who live inside of law firms is this: Find ways to become better acquainted with what your in-house “clients” are doing, and ask them how you can do better at understanding their business – the practice of law.

I suspect that many partners most want marketers to: 1. be conversant in their professional language so that they know they are being understood;  and 2.  understand what goes into the complicated task of making money by operating a law firm.  

For those who scratch their heads wondering what a “security” is, or a “charitable remainder trust” or a “motion for summary judgment,” I can assure you that you don’t have to go to law school to figure these things out. You can, in fact, learn what it is your lawyers do without having to learn how to do it yourself (and it does not take that long).

Also, you can learn pretty quickly about the income statements and balance sheets associated with your firm’s spot in the legal industry. Again, you don’t have to be an accountant or a business major to learn the concepts and the language.

For those who are interested in having someone teach their marketing department about the practice of law and the business of the practice, I am offering crash courses that can get you quickly up to speed.

Let’s face it – the lawyers are often too busy to teach you (or not very good at teaching anyway) but they expect you to learn it – one way or the other !


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