Process helps lawyers accept, implement innovation.

AuthorRaasch, Janet Ellen

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Legal marketing professionals operate in the realm of innovation. If it's been done before, they believe, it's rarely worth doing the same way again. Most lawyers, by contrast, operate in the realm of precedent. If it hasn't been done before, it's risky. A special challenge can arise when the two worlds meet--when eager marketers try to lead cautious-by-nature lawyers into the uncomfortable territory of innovation.

Although getting lawyers to innovate is challenging, it's not impossible. Lawyers are process-oriented. Marketing professionals who want to encourage lawyers to innovate can achieve success by acknowledging this fact and following a careful step-by-step process. Identify in advance what might hinder you and figure out how to fix it.

Larry Kohn, president of Los Angeles-based Kohn Communications, spoke to this topic at a recent monthly educational meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. Kohn developed a process that he believes leads to innovation success.

He said: "Lawyers enjoy success just as much as the next person. Marketers who want to advance an innovative project should counter-balance lawyers' lack of patience, fear of failure and fear of reprisals with a clear vision of the value of a successful marketing project in advancing a lawyer's or a law firm's success.

"Always ask yourself and your lawyers--is the risk of failure or reprisal so great that it cancels out the many, rich benefits of success? If you are truly honest with yourself, you have to admit that it rarely does."

The Process to Successful Innovation

Kohn's innovation process involves the following nine steps:

Generate an innovative idea. "Innovative ideas are all around us," Kohn said. "I ask lawyers to actively generate their own ideas, which trains them to think about innovation. I ask them to look outside the carefully defined world of law to the greater world around them to discover transferable strategies. I want them to see the world not as noise, but as a catalyst."

List the benefits of implementing this idea. Begin by listing the personal benefits to you if your idea succeeds. Will you make more money? Will you achieve a greater profile within the firm? A clear understanding of these potential benefits makes it much more likely that you will work hard to achieve your innovation. Move on to list the benefits to the law firm. Arm yourself with research that substantiates your claims.

List the...

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