Developing a marketing culture in your firm.

AuthorWolfe, Mark


Culture: a shared, learned, symbolic system of values, beliefs and attitudes that shapes and influences perception and behavior--an abstract "mental blueprint" or "mental code."

I have been practicing law for 23 years. Out of necessity, I have had a lot of on-the-job training in the area of law firm marketing. Perhaps because my undergraduate degree is in business or maybe because I just enjoy a paycheck, I am more immersed in the marketing aspect. In fact, over the last several years, I have written several articles about law firm marketing, or practice building, and I have even spoken at continuing legal education programs on marketing. These articles and programs have given me the opportunity to interact with lawyers from all over the United States concerning law firm marketing. Based on my experience and observations, most lawyers absolutely hate the idea and concept of marketing. Shocking, right?. If you have recently entered the arena of legal marketing from another industry or service area, you have probably noticed that we lawyers can be very resistant to marketing.

This aversion to marketing has deep roots and is understandable, but how do you as a marketing director of a law firm deal with this counter-productive mind-set? How can you be productive in your marketing efforts if you report to and work with lawyers who maintain a categorical aversion to "marketing"?

First, understand why this aversion exists and then develop an internal strategy you can use to help create a marketing culture inside your firm. As your firm develops an internal marketing culture--a shared system of values relative to the importance of marketing--then external marketing projects will be more likely to receive the resources they need for success. However, in the minds of many lawyers, the word "marketing" conjures up one idea or image: "huckster," and they want no part of that image. To develop a shared marketing culture in your firm, you need to understand why this image or mind-set exists and then be able to promote ideas and concepts that will change the lawyers' mind-set.

So why do most lawyers hate the idea of marketing?

The simple truth is that our egos and the nonsense pounded into us during law school. Basically, law school perpetuates the myth of "intelligence equals success," i.e., the Ivory Tower Syndrome. You see, in law school, most of the professors who teach the law are just that--professors. Most of them have had minimal experience in the real-life practice of law, and I dare say that very few, if any, were a managing partner at a law firm. Law school teaches the nobility and dignity of the law profession. The profession is held in high esteem and sometimes mixed with a certain level of intellectual snobbiness. Law students are told directly and indirectly by well-meaning law professors that quality legal work alone is the key to building a successful legal career. "The world's your oyster if you can properly bluebook a citation and write a snappy legal brief." Translation: "Great legal work will mean great success."

Law students learn a lot about the law and the nobleness of the profession, but nothing or very little about the real-life practice of law--specifically, acquiring clients. In fact, the Ivory Tower mind-set is so...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT