Is the Grass Really All That Green?

They say it takes a certain kind of person to want to work for lawyers, or at least that is what my father, a retired lawyer, told me when I first entered the world of legal marketing.  I started my professional services marketing career at a consulting firm and, in my interview for the position, the woman who would ultimately become my boss told me “the only thing harder than working for consultants is working for lawyers.”  She had just come from legal marketing and it was at that moment that I decided someday I would work in a law firm.  To be honest, I was young, it was my first in-house marketing gig, and I had no idea what that statement actually meant (other than thinking “she’s probably right, I would never want to work for my father!”).  Many years on, I think I get it.  But the optimist in me really wonders, is the grass greener on the other side of the professional services marketing fence?

I polled some of our LMA colleagues that have seen the different sides of professional services marketing and here is some of what I heard:

“The key difference from legal marketing and marketing in the A/E/C industry (architecture/engineering/construction) emerges from the massive emphasis placed on business development.  The BD professionals … regularly attend events and functions out of the office to connect their professional staff with key clients … these professionals are master proposal-writers … [they] attend client meetings.”

“When I hear lawyers grappling with issues such as ‘project management’ and ‘AFAs,’ I honestly believe that if they spent time with any principal or senior project manager in the A/E/C community they would begin to understand these concepts embody good business principles.  Start asking your clients what they have budgeted for various legal matters and build your pitch to exceed the client’s expectations.”

“It gets very tiring arguing the validity of gravity EVERY DAY ALL OVER AGAIN.”  (This refers to lawyers who want to debate the nuances of why marketing does/doesn’t work.  Architects, engineers, accountants don’t have this issue because they deal with math and physics. They may not like it, but they accept it.)

Okay, so this makes it sound like the grass may be a little bit greener over there.  But couldn’t there also be some opportunities to advance the legal marketing platform in all of this?  This issue of Capital Ideas addresses some best practices of other professional services organizations, and at the May program we heard some of these first hand from our panel.  We’re half way through the year, summer has set in; perhaps this would be a good time to dust off those New Year’s resolutions, strategic plans, etc., and see how we can bring some of that green grass over to our lawn.

By Laurie Paul, President of the LMA Capital Chapter and Senior Business Development Manager at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, for the May/June 2015 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.

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