Key Takeaways from LMA’s Annual Conference

At LMA’s 2019 annual conference in Atlanta, much of the conversation centered around legal marketing’s impact on legal operations.

The LMA Bay Area local group conducted recaps recently for members in San Francisco and Sacramento. It’s clear that the traditional role of marketers as internal service providers is continuing to shift, with marketing and business development professionals assuming a more outward-facing role of helping lawyers better serve their clients.

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Conference attendees Lydia Bednerik, Doug Ott and Adrian Lurrsen led the April 18 discussion at Farella Braun + Martel. Doug Ott was the featured speaker at the Sacramento recap on the next day.   

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                    (Left to right - Doug Ott, Lydia Bednerick, and Adrian Lurseen

Here are some of the insights they shared. 

  • Law firm marketers can earn the trust and respect of their managing partners by leveraging data to show which marketing tactics are bringing in revenue and which are a waste of money. When marketers get requests for events or other marketing initiatives, more are now using data to show whether the activity is worth their time. “No one will value your time if you don’t,” said Bednerik, marketing director at Wendell Rosen in Oakland.
  • Don’t discount the value of “small data,” such as individual clicks or shares of an article. “Knowing something about an individual in a relationship-based business is vitally important,” said Lurrsen, co-founder of legal publisher JD Supra. Use that background information to tailor your pitches for new business.
  • Likewise, getting a press mention in a smaller publication can be valuable, depending on the audience you are trying to reach.
  • Law firm clients are clamoring to have more business development professionals attend key meetings – not more lawyers. “What the client is saying they want people who understand business to sit in the room,” Lurssen said.
  • General counsels said they aren’t the only decision-makers law firms should target when forming business relationships. Often, it’s the CFO who has the ear of the CEO. “You’ve got to think broadly across the C-Suite,” said Ott, a law firm business development consultant.
  • The high cost of Big Law services continues to be top of mind for clients. When a general counsel panelist pointed out that in-house legal professionals earn less than $200 per hour (compared to $800+ for Big Law firm partners), the comment quickly trended on Twitter among conference attendees.
  • Diversity and inclusion remains a strategic theme for the legal industry, with data playing a role in supporting these efforts.

LMA Bay Area will be carrying forward these themes in its upcoming program choices. Stay tuned. 

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Join us at our upcoming special event, the 7th Annual Silicon Valley In-House Counsel Summit on May 21st at the Palo Alto offices of Morgan Lewis.


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Laura Ernde is a San Francisco-based communications consultant. A former legal affairs journalist and State Bar of California communications director, she helps law firms and legal marketing agencies with content strategy and content creation. Connect with her via LinkedIn and Twitter. Email: laura.ernde@gmail.com

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