We talk about law firm culture and then interview CMO, published author, and legal marketing superstar Deborah Farone, to find out how successful law firm leaders are creating and developing firm cultures to encourage business development.
That’s The Way It’s Done – Why ‘Preserving Culture’ Can be Stifling Innovation in Law Firms
Today’s Hot Take comes to us from Above the Law – The ‘Culture Card’ In Law Firms by James Goodnow. It has a great example from Zappos about dramatically changing culture, but also makes the point for building a strong, dependable system that can be relied up by new hires. However, far too often culture is invoked as a barrier or reason to NOT make a change, even though the outcome could be positive. James writes:
“Invoking a law firm’s culture to shut down experimentation and new ideas doesn’t just preserve the existing culture, whatever that may be. It inculcates a deeper culture into the firm, one of fear, stasis, and decay. You can’t have a firm culture if your firm doesn’t survive. Everything about the world of legal business is up for grabs in the coming years. Resistance to change is no longer just stodgy — it’s swiftly becoming an existential threat.
Whether culture is a good or bad thing depends on where you find it. In museums and art galleries, culture means intelligence, refinement, and beauty. In a lab, culture means a plate of mold. Culture should be something that drives a law firm to grow, not something that grows over a law firm’s corpse.”
Great article, check it out here: https://abovethelaw.com/2017/12/the-culture-card-in-law-firms/
Positioning Yourself for Success
As the chief marketing officer at two of the world’s most successful law firms, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, and as a national marketing professional at a global management consultancy, Deborah Farone has honed the skills of professional services marketing and communications. In addition to her highly regarded work in the communications counseling and crisis management spheres, she has established and led marketing efforts for the consulting, advertising and public relations professions. Ms. Farone was nominated by her peers as the first recipient of the Legal Marketing Association’s Legacy Award in recognition of her contribution to the profession. We are excited to have published author and legal marketing superstar Deborah Farone on the LAWsome podcast today.
“Leadership is very key, both in creating a good culture and a good environment in a firm, but also in the marketing of the firm.”
In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Deborah about the role leadership plays in firm culture and marketing, and the difference between management and leadership:
Jake: Talking about brand and law firm culture, a lot of people want to get the culture right. They’re not sure if that’s their brand or what the strategy is. So do you think what happens internally at a law firm, personalities, leadership, does that get reflected externally and defines the brand? Or is a brand what clients say about the firm? What’s your take on culture and brand right off?
Deborah: I think it’s what everyone says about the culture. I think the culture really is the brand. And regardless of how good you are at creating a wonderful website, or brochures, or any of your materials, or your social media, it’s really what people say, and what’s out there in the ether that’s going to make the difference. So it’s a combination of how you treat your clients and what your clients think of you, how you treat your lawyers, and in particular, how you treat your staff. All these people out there talking, they’re going to create a buzz about your firm that’s much more powerful than anything someone sees online.
Jake: Wow. Well, and I think that we get kind of sidetracked about client experience. You’ve got the clients and “The clients are always right,” and it feels like in some way we serve the clients more than our staff. And I think that management or somebody who’s keen on that can stick up for their staff. And that’s actually part of the marketing. That’s a really great aspect that I don’t think a lot of people get….that’s a great point.
So talking about relating to the staff and making sure they do what they’re supposed to be doing. Coming up with plans and strategies, it seems like at a lot of legal seminars, there’s a lot of lawyers and law firm owners absorbing a lot of the information and then once they get back into their law firms, it’s back to their hair on fire. I’m just wondering, in regards to that branding and making sure your staff feels taken care of, what part of marketing strategy do you feel is getting missed? Because a lot of law firms are going to these marketing seminars, but not a lot of them are doing anything about the information that they get. You know, you’ve written books about this stuff. You keep writing books about this, so how do you think law firms can make like realistic marketing plans and strategies, and then execute them with their staff?
Deborah: Well, I think the leadership is so important in these firms, right? Because not only are the leaders the ones telling folks what they expect of their role models and so if you see leaders in the firm treating their clients well, treating their staff well, treating their associates well, and their partners well, that’s going to send a stronger message than any kind of written mission statement that you have. You know, good leaders are not easy to find, just because someone has risen to a senior position in a law firm, it might mean that they’re a good manager, but it might also mean that they’re not a good leader. And those two skills are very, very different. And I think you need good leadership to have a good culture. But I also think, tying into your other question, because I think there were two questions in there in a way.
Deborah: No, no, that’s a good question. It’s a good way of asking it. I think leadership is very important in marketing, because you need to have a plan, you need to have hopefully a strategic plan for a law firm at this point. But if not, you need to have practice and department plans. But in order to get those done, a firm needs a strong leader who’s going to be committed to that plan, help sell that plan internally, and make sure that the partners who follow that plan are compensated based on those behaviors that the plan really honors and wants to develop. So I think leadership is very key, both in creating a good culture and a good environment in a firm, but also in the marketing of the firm.
Get More Information About Listening, Leadership and Legal Marketing
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