By Simone Hughes, Chief Marketing Officer at Field Law
Are Lawyers from Mars and Marketers from Venus?
Are there days that you wonder if you are on the same planet as your law firm? Are there times when you vocalize a business development opinion and are marginalized for it? Do you question your business education and experience and why the lawyers in your firm don’t charge out of bed in the morning to develop business? I bet you’ve had those days. I have. But then, I wake up to a new day and realize that it boils down to motivation and communication.
Our job, as marketers, brand advocates and business developers, is to best position our firms, practices and lawyers so that they will be hired faster than if they were doing it on their own.
Marketers have been trained in business strategy and execution and are motivated to understand human buying behaviour and translate those insights into long-term profit and sustainability of the firm.
Human buying behaviour is complex and subject to continuous change. Our world moves fast and successful marketers have to move faster to remain at the top of their game and show results. We are mercenary for the firm (to maximize profit while optimizing everything else to get there) and mercenary for us (because we get tossed aside more than other professions). We also take all of our business and communications training for granted and think it’s natural for other business leaders to have the same.
Have we really dug in to understand what motivates lawyers? Why do we think that they are motivated by the same things we are? We are experts in understanding client motivation and mostly ignore our key stakeholder’s motivations!
People think that law firm leaders have been trained to be leaders and have taken mini-MBA courses. This is not true for the most part. Lawyers are highly trained in their profession and are generally distrustful, risk adverse and conservative. Opposite traits for today’s market demands for client service-focused, business developing leaders. Can they change and do they have to change?
I believe that the organizational design of law firms has to change to segment roles and have the right people in the right role and not force every lawyer to be all roles in a firm. But that is for the future.
If lawyers today must develop business, be a leader of people and business, serve clients and do the work all at the same time– then they have to change. And, they must be provided with the opportunity to learn about managing change, business strategy, leadership and how to manage teams of people collaboratively in our highly disruptive technological world.
A daunting task indeed and probably the reason why an increasing amount of lawyers are leaving private practice and why more law schools are including these disciplines in their law school curricula.
Daniel Pink expresses the opinion that people in in knowledge-based industries, like lawyers, are motivated more by autonomy, mastery and purpose and less by money, fear, recognition and status.
If your objective as a marketer in a law firm is to instill a business development culture, train and then lead and manage marketing initiatives, walking in a lawyer’s shoes and understanding their motivations is critical, but it isn’t the only key to success.
If things aren’t working and people are not participating in business development - it’s not about blaming others for not understanding you; it is about being the bigger communicator – the trained communicator, and using those super powers to help yourself and the greater cause of increasing long-term value of your firm.
By better understanding what motivates lawyers and by using those insights to communicate more frequently and more effectively, you will see results and become a true partner in the eyes of your firm.
About the Author
Simone Hughes is the Chief Marketing Officer at Field Law and a member of LSSO's Editorial Board. She leads the integrated marketing, business development, brand and public relations functions to support the firm's strategic priorities of professional excellence and client service.
 Acknowledgement of John Gray, PhD 1992 book on communication in relationships: https://www.marsvenus.com/p/men-are-from-mars-women-are-from-venus-hardcover