What do actors and attorneys have in common?

They get press, they get nominated for awards, and sometimes actors are cast as lawyers in courtroom shows and legal thrillers.

But where are the unsung heroes — the law firm marketers — in these stories about lawyers? We know they are working hard in the background, out of the spotlight, drumming up media interviews, writing rankings submissions, launching podcasts and social campaigns.

As I streamed four of the films nominated for Oscars at the 2024 Academy Awards, hoping to unwind and relax after busy workdays as a legal marketer, I swear I saw law firm marketers on-screen. Maybe my mind was preoccupied?

“Barbie”

Lawyer Barbie was promoted to Partner Barbie and is now chairing the firm’s Women’s Group.

She’s in her Dreamhouse office, typing (in a pink font) her plan to line up CLEs and networking events for her female colleagues, scheduling volunteer days with community programs, and drafting a Survey Monkey poll to ask about the lawyers’ personal and professional goals.

In a penultimate scene, Partner Barbie tells Marketing Barbie that, next year, when Women’s History Month comes around, the marketing team will have a year’s worth of memorable event photos for social media, new content about volunteer experiences, and results of the survey to help the firm support its female attorneys.

She also tells Marketing Barbie about the kick-off event for the Women’s Group: “I don’t have anything big planned. Just a giant blowout party with all the Barbies, and planned choreography, and a bespoke song. You should stop by.” #BarbiePower

“The Holdovers”

It’s almost Christmas when Partner Paul asks brainy Associate Angus to give up his St. Kitts vacation to do trial prep in the only heated room at the law firm: the Harry Potter dining hall. “I suspect that, like me,” Paul tells Angus, “this is not how you wanted to spend your holidays, but such are the vicissitudes of life.”

Angus learns important life, litigation, and Roman history lessons from Paul, including the origin of the word punitive. Paul teaches case precedent as well, telling Angus, “You see, history is not simply the study of the past. It is an explanation of the present.”

Mary from Marketing joins the lawyers for a meal and reminds them to tell her team the details of the case, ASAP, so when a decision comes down, she’ll be ready to do her job of promoting the case, the lawyers, and the firm. She explains the news cycle and the required immediacy of website content, social media posts, and media outreach. Angus seems indifferent, and only wants Mary’s tray of freshly baked brownies. But Mary means business, and she limits him to just one.

Cut to a parking lot, where Mary, Paul, and Angus celebrate the trial win and igniting a box of cherries jubilee on the trunk of a car. #TeamWin #NewsCoverage

“Maestro”

Leonard is an extremely talented lawyer who reaches great heights in his profession due to his passion, hard work, and dedication. Based in the firm’s office near Carnegie Hall, Leonard is highly regarded by colleagues, but he could use a fresh set of clients or referrals.

Chatting one afternoon with Shirley, who manages the firm’s social media, Leonard mentions his love for classical music. Suddenly, Shirley says she no longer sees Leonard in black and white! She promptly starts designing a visually stunning LinkedIn campaign branded in the firm’s vibrant colors.

She calls it the Carnegie Spotlight, and it shows Leonard’s personality as both a lawyer and a musician. Shirley teaches Leonard how to share the social media content and repost to contacts with connections in the music biz.

A few weeks later, Leonard gets a call — cue the triumphant music! — from a music executive who engages him for a major transaction. Another marketing team accomplishment! #MusicLawyer

“Past Lives”

A movie about writers and the process of writing, including a meet-cute at a Montauk writer’s retreat. While two childhood friends reunite at New York City landmarks, a law firm marketing manager named Lee can be seen in the background reading an email from a lawyer. The words “Get this published” appear on his phone screen. He opens the attachment and gasps; it is a 2,500-word article about compliance regulations; it has 15 footnotes.

Flashback to the webinar Lee gave about pitching bylined articles and waiting for an editor’s approval, style guidelines and wordcount before writing anything.

As the film’s main characters, Nora and Hae Sung, continue their memory-lane stroll in the city, Lee screams, “Noooooooooo!” He agonizes about how to politely tell the lawyer that the article is too long and that he might not be successful placing it for publication. #ProcessWorks #ProposeFirstWriteLater

Let’s hear it for the unsung heroes! They may be just out of sight from the red carpet, but they are working every angle to give center stage to their lawyers. If you’re inspired to talk about Oscar-nominated movies a behind-the-scenes strategy for increasing visibility and want to know why integrated marketing programs work so well, contact me, Liz Lindley, at llindley@jaffepr.com.