On day one of the LMASE Regional Conference, the morning sessions were followed by a luncheon featuring an update on LMA International by Ashraf Lakhani. These updates are always interesting, because it really does give you a sense of just how much work and effort goes into putting together that is LMA. This is even more impressive once you consider that these people on the LMA “Big Board” are all volunteering their time, and that all of this work is being put in on top of the work they already do by at their home firms. I appreciate that sacrifice, and appreciate all those who step up behind them to keep this important organization moving forward.
The update was followed by the LMASE Your Honors Awards. I understand that there are a variety of opinions about the awards, but at the end of the day, it is very inspiring to me personally to see all of the amazing work that is being done by my legal marketing colleagues at firms around the region. The innovation and scale on some of the projects that won awards that day is both inspiring and daunting. However, that’s why I also see so much value in them. These awards are essentially fuel to my own fire at work to keep pushing to achieve more and to pull off more projects and to step-up my own game to keep up with my industry peers. Congratulations to all those who won this year, because you earned it!
After lunch I stepped out for a bit to handle some work emails. The first session I was able to attend in the afternoon was “Running Your Department Like a Business”, presented by Jennifer Scalzi, CEO and Founder of Calibrate Legal, and her colleague Gordon Braun-Woodbury, Marketing Operations Consultant. I absolutely loved this session. It was, by far, my favorite of the entire conference. If you ever see either of these two on a conference agenda, don’t think twice before signing up. Their session hit on so many of the points under the main umbrella theme we’ve been hearing for a few years now, which is that competition is going to force more and more firms to act and organize like their traditional corporate peers.
They opened up the session with an plain and simple issue – Follow. The. Money. This is really a charge to Marketing and Business Development Departments to be dogged in their tracking of marketing spend and the ROI on that spend. Marketers have to be able to have these statistics at hand, because the value of money is all that firm leadership will be thinking about when it comes time to set the next year’s marketing budget. Even more important that ROI in the moment is to be able to show progress over time, to further justify to leadership the belief in the department that’s been shown in the past and to encourage further confidence going forward.
Another portion of the session that jumped out at me was the discussion around Revenue vs. Relationship in the discussion of Events and Marketing. So much money ends up being dumped into events that are key “Relationship” events, but far too often we don’t push attorneys to question whether the event is truly driving additional “Revenue” to the firm, which should be at the top of the list when considering whether an event is worth the spend of not. This was right after a discussion about making sure that you are advocating for industry-focused and account-based marketing. Again, I can’t speak highly enough about this session and would recommend these speakers to any future conference planners.
My last session of day one was “The Coming Revolution of Law Firm Strategy & Structure”, led by Mark Beese, President of Leadership for Lawyers LLC. This was a fascinating session that broke down several of the results of a years long study on the various changes in firm revenues at a mix of different firms, and how different strategies have helped play a part in the growth at certain firms in the last few years. One “a-ha” moment for me was in how he broke down what he considered to be two main strategic paths for most firms: 1) a talent agency that leases high-priced professionals to clients, or; 2) solution providers that help clients address complex problems with complex solutions. I simply had never that about the industry in such a way, but seeing it broken down with the various pros and cons of each path made a lot of sense, and made me think hard about how my firm and other firms position themselves.
The day’s sessions finally wrapped up, it was time for the social part of the evening. Everyone at the conference was broken up into groups and sent to various bars and restaurants around the area for a chance to get to know each other better. Being at the conference without any colleagues from my firm, it was a bit intimidating. However, I had a blast, and it was a reminder again of what a fun and welcoming community truly powers LMA.
Next time – the final day.
Fenwick & West LLP
Business Development Manager