There is a blizzard of year-end advice and year-in-review recaps on blogs, news reports, Twitter and other media. I am fatigued by looking back, so I offer these 5x5s that were presented at the November 7, 2014 LMA Texas Regional Conference by five senior legal marketing and business development authorities. Consider them critical pieces of year-beginning advice for all professional staff in law firms.
I moderated this panel of experts - everyone of us started our careers in the trenches somewhere. None of us began our careers in legal marketing, so the lessons we shared reflect the professional knee-scrapes, mistakes, successes, irritations and joys accumulated over our respective careers.
Our panelists included:
- Gillian Ward, Chief Marketing Officer, Baker Botts
- Amy Miller, Director of Marketing and Client Relations, Cox Smith
- Shawn Adams, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Gardere
- Murray Coffey, Chief Marketing Officer, Haynes and Boone
- Deborah McMurray (moderator), CEO and Strategy Architect, Content Pilot
And here is our advice:
- Find a marketing and a lawyer mentor.
- Read the newspapers.
- Be visible.
- Be proactive.
- Take ownership of your work.
- It's okay to say “I don't know” as long as you follow it with “let me find out.”
- Admit mistakes, anticipate questions and be ready to recommend a next step.
- Be careful not to just “flip emails” by forwarding without adding context – always take initiative.
- Take responsibility for your own professional development.
- Understand that your priority may not always the priority of your supervisor.
- Mistakes are going to happen. What you do to quickly remedy a mistake and learn from it is what counts.
- Be willing and confident to share your ideas with lawyers and your team.
- In meetings, always take notes. Never be the one with a blank piece of paper.
- Flexibility is key in our roles – being able to quickly change direction is key to successfully moving the ball.
- Negative water cooler talk adds no value. Once a firm or department decision is made, be a positive influencer, no matter the situation.
- Seek clarity.
- Make mistakes.
- Check your email before you go to bed and on the weekends.
- Put your family first.
- Live above the line. Write RESPONSIBILITY above the line – and all other words (rationalizing, blaming, finger-pointing, procrastinating, whining, etc.) go below the line.
- Work at least a 50-hour week. To excel in legal marketing, it’s not a 9-5 job.
- Be smart first. This is advice to the very attractive people - being a quick study, intelligent and articulate will get you promoted faster and farther.
- Be genuine and nice. Only authentic and good people deserve to be trusted. Marketers who are trusted get promoted.
- Always be excellent. Never settle for “good enough.”