This time of year brings back so many wonderful memories of my favorite traditions. I hold on pretty tightly to my family traditions – my family teases me that I’d turn down a trip to Hawaii if it happened on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’m not sure they’re wrong.
My favorite tradition that I look forward to every year is my annual father-daughter shopping day. Years ago, my dad would take a day off work and take my sister and me out shopping for our mom because, well, he needed help picking out things and we were kids and didn’t have money to buy our own gifts. The day has evolved over the years and it’s now more about our time together.
Now that I am married and have small children, it has been fun adopting some traditions and also coming up with new traditions. However, the hard part was letting some of my old ones go – but, as it turns out, I love seeing my girls experience the magic for themselves.
My tight grip on traditions made me think… is this really so different from what legal marketing professional are facing?
Raise your virtual hand if you’ve ever come up with a great idea to boost attorney engagement or recommended a process revamp and been met with a “No, this is the way things have always been done.”
All law firms are built differently but there are many law firms that are known for being traditional. I’m not saying that’s bad – but being traditional for the sake of being traditional can become a form of complacency. This is a crucial time for law firms to avoid resting on their laurels and focused on the future of the firm and what will help attract talent to the firm to keep it viable in the long-term. As the saying goes “If you aren’t moving forward, you’re falling behind.” It can be hard to tell firm leadership that changes are necessary when the firm has enjoyed continued success, but with the Great Resignation and the ongoing economic fluctuation, it’s better to be prepared and embrace some necessary changes to ensure the future of the firm is in capable hands.
If “traditional” is part of your law firm’s brand, it’s up to the legal marketing team to find ways to embrace those elements while helping move the firm into a new era by considering what will bring laterals and associates through the doors – and what will make them stay. If you ask a senior partner and a first-year associate what they think of when they hear the phrase “traditional law firm,” I am sure the responses would be very different. Marketers are challenged with this duality of thought to keep firm leaders happy with their workplace environment while also continuing to attract new talent to keep the firm thriving.
However, some of these processes or programs are no longer optional. There are three key areas where legal marketing professionals need to make sure their firm is adapting in order to attract lateral attorneys and business professionals – which may mean it’s time for a candid conversation in lieu of subtle suggestions.
Social Media for Law Firms and Lawyers
It’s almost 2023, and law firms should have a presence on social media, even if it’s a small one. Technology is an important recruiting tool. Investing even a moderate amount of time can go a long way.
LinkedIn is a good networking tool and platform for professionals, so it may be an easier sell for legal marketing professionals when encouraging the firm to have a presence. It is also easy for employees to engage there — and since it’s separate from personal accounts such as Facebook or Instagram, it removes some level of risk of an employee getting their wires crossed and sharing or posting something that may not be aligned with the firm brand.
The firm page should feature consistent, frequent posts to keep it from going stagnant. Think branded images for news posts, lateral hire announcements, and firm or individual awards to keep the page polished and reflective of the brand.
Speaking of the firm brand: A social media policy is a must-have for law firms to ensure their employees are being responsible ambassadors of the brand. The policy should include guidelines for individual accounts that are associated with the firm, as well as personal accounts, to provide some guardrails for what is deemed appropriate conduct. The recent news about Twitter is a great catalyst for this conversation and how law firms should be promoting, but also protecting, their brand.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Every law firm should have some form of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) program or policy that should be clearly stated on their website. Again, this is an important recruiting tool, because associates and laterals are looking to join law firms that value diversity. This can be among the more difficult conversations, but one of the more important ones, to have with your key decision-makers.
If your firm leadership is still wavering about how to do this and “if it’s really necessary,” consider looking at other law firms in your market or regional competitors, and highlighting how they do things. This will give your firm’s leadership a better sense of their options and show them that the firm is at risk of falling behind on an important measure of culture that is evaluated by lateral attorneys and associates.
Hybrid Work Policy
A major issue in many industries right now is remote work. The pandemic showed workers that flexibility and a work-life balance are possible, and employers seemed to grasp that, with several implementing hybrid policies. However, the American Lawyer’s 2022 Midlevel Associates Survey indicated that associate satisfaction has decreased since last year: “More than half of associates said that hybrid flexibility was decreasing their odds of burnout” and more than half also said they’d consider quitting their job for a better work-life balance.
Law firms should take this seriously. Younger attorneys are going to look for firms where they can succeed and build their practices, but also that allow them to spend time with their families and work from home occasionally without being penalized for it. Each firm should be able to trust their employees to get their work done — or have a talk with recruiting. I would imagine that attorneys have a good sense of how important in-person work is for their supervisors and know they need a plan for in-person time leading up to a trial, but it might be a good idea to have firm management talk through and develop a written policy regarding remote work. (Lawyers like things in writing, right?)
I’d also encourage you to make sure that these conversations include your professional staff as well as attorneys to ensure the policies consider the entirety of the firm’s culture.
As 2022 comes to a close, it’s the ideal time to consider whether any of these are still on your to-do list for the new year or if “the way things have always been done” is holding you back from achieving a different goal for your team. Now is a great time to think of ways to get your leaders on board so you are equipped to approach them with recommendations and reasoning that can empower them to say “Yes.”
The legal industry can be slow to adopt change, so take advantage of the new year, new budget and new outlook to help drive your initiatives forward. It’s time to make some new traditions and to figure out which ones can go and which ones just need a little refresh.
If you need help in strategizing on any of these initiatives, or have any great holiday traditions to share, contact me, Mary Smith, at firstname.lastname@example.org.