DLA Piper Wins a 2016 Your Honor Award for Its Compelling Film, “In A Flash (A Lesson in Cybersecurity)”

Including the recent rash of cybersecurity attacks on law firms, cybersecurity breaches have become a regular part of the 24-hour news cycle. In response to the “when, not if” specter of cybercrime faced by corporate America, DLA Piper has developed a robust and globally-recognized cybersecurity practice, practically becoming a “pure play” practitioner in this growing practice area.

“In a Flash” was created by DLA Piper to generate more awareness of the issues corporations must address related to this global threat as well as about its practice. The film won “First Place and Best in Show” in the “Practice Development and Client-based Programs” category of the 2016 Your Honor Awards.

According to its website, it depicts a fictional corporation dealing with a number of real-world legal and regulatory issues surrounding a cyberattack during which its systems were hijacked and ransom demanded to regain control.

Kimberly Rennick, Director of Sector Marketing for the Americas at the firm, says the film. “The point of the film isn’t at all sales,” she explains. “It’s an opportunity for our premier cyber and data protection to demonstrate their expertise in a meaningful and tangible way and engage the audience,” continues Rennick, who leads a US-based team of marketing managers and coordinators focused on the firm’s go-to-market strategy.

The film, she says, provides a value add to DLA Piper’s clients because it not only educates them on this critical issue but provides them with free CLE credits, particularly in ethics. “Those credits are hard to come by,” she adds.

The website explains that, “The film is a cybersecurity and corporate governance education and training tool for directors, legal departments and management at companies around the world.” In fact, the film, which is targeted to the general counsel audience, is packaged in such a way that DLA Piper’s legal professionals can present the film and use it as an educational tool without having to ask special permission.  They can access the film’s microsite, accessible by DLA Piper professionals, to learn what they need to do to show the movie at their location or event, according to Rennick.

“DLA Piper is very entrepreneurial and we wanted to make it so lawyers didn’t have to check in with us to show the film,” says Rennick. “It’s been shown at conferences and many of our clients’ offices over the last year.”

The movie is versatile as an educational tool. It can be presented a panel-style presentation or in a client’s office with their general counsel. It’s usually shown as a three segment presentation in which participants watch a segment of the film, stop and engage in discussion and then watch the second and third parts of the film.

The movie is one of many marketing successful efforts the firm has undertaken and, in fact, was a follow up film to their first, the also award-winning, “At What Cost.” That movie “addresses the importance of directors and management reacting to indications of questionable or fraudulent conduct within the company,” according to its minisite.

The firm, says Rennick, is ranked highly on cyber and data privacy and compliance by indices like BTI and Acritas (where tied for #3 this year among top 20 firms with Kirkland and Ellis). “We are well-branded and well-known and the film enhances rather than supplants all of the other marketing that we already are doing in that space.” She credits the film’s success, and indeed that of all of their always robust marketing efforts, to the firm’s premier reputation for cyber and data security and compliance and its superlative marketing team.

“But, I would be remiss if I discounted the fact that this was absolutely the brainchild of our U.S. co-managing partner, Stasia Kelly,” declares Rennick who also calls Kelly, former general counsel to four large companies, a visionary. Rennick, who is also a lawyer by training and holds a masters in law firm management from George Washington University, says their CMO is also former general counsel to one of their large clients.

In fact, many of their marketing team are non-practicing attorneys (and/or have masters degrees) so they understand what kinds educational tools their audience, particularly GCs, want. “It’s very much the product of Stasia’s vision,” Rennick says of the movie.

The film was produced in a tight collaboration with the firm’s marketing team and about 20 of its practice area attorneys by Videobred of Louisville, KY over a nine month period. It was made on that tight, aggressive schedule in order to premier the movie at Compliance Week 2015. “We had about 100 people in the room [to view the film], which is noteworthy for a group of compliance professionals at a conference with about 500 attendees total,” says Rennick.

Rennick suggests that law firms who want to produce a film as a marketing and educational piece consider the tremendous time and the cost of making one. “Anybody knows it takes a lot of money to make a film but add to that the entrepreneurialism and volunteerism of our attorneys,” explains Rennick. There were often five attorneys on a scripting call who weren’t billing for their time, for example.

So, there’s a substantial opportunity cost to making films of this quality and potential reach if a firm decides not to simply allow a production company to produce the project with little involvement from them. “But, because our name was going to be on the film, we needed to be consultants in the process so the time commitment is not insubstantial or insignificant,” she continues.

The payoff has been equally substantial, however. “The film has been well-received by our clients and contacts,” enthuses Rennick. “People repeatedly tell us that it’s the best CLE they’ve ever seen, that they really enjoyed it and were really grateful,” she adds.

They’ve been asked by some clients to return and show it to their boards of directors and have been offered payment for directors’ training using the film. Overall, as a value add to their clients and contacts, Rennick says, “The film has been very successful.”

By Dahna M. Chandler, Principal, Audience First Communications, Inc. for the March/April 2016 Capital Ideas Newsletter. 

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