Editor’s note: This open letter from law firm marketing leaders to partners about their frustrations at the firm was published in 2014 and change has been slow in coming. So, we’re republishing it as a clarion call to law firm partners for change.
Many of our clients and friends are Chief Marketing Officers at some of the top law firms and we hear a steady stream of complaints from them about how slowly law firms are moving to respond to the current market conditions.
It seems their voices are not being heard. So, as a service to our clients we have taken the liberty of preparing a form letter of resignation that law firm CMO’s can keep in the top drawer to be used whenever they feel like they have had enough.
I am writing this letter to let you know that today is my last day at the firm.
I have truly enjoyed my time working at the firm and getting to know many interesting people. Working as a Chief Marketing Officer at a prestigious law firm has given me incredible insight into the challenges and opportunities lawyers and law firms face when it comes to the marketing of legal services. The competition among law firms is higher than ever, as we compete with other law firms and alternative legal providers to provide value to our clients in this newly connected economy.
Several of my colleagues at other law firms have been focusing their efforts on strategic initiatives such as content marketing, social media, competitive intelligence and alternative pricing. Their firms have realized that in order to compete effectively, providing good legal service is no longer enough. Gone are the days of the “old boys network“, where lawyers could mingle at Yale Club luncheons and generate new business by having a few cocktails with their fraternity brothers. Today, clients and prospects want more. They want cheaper, better and faster, along with more accountability and transparency, and many of them are looking at smaller, more nimble firms who can provide the same level of talent and deliver good results while providing a highly customized service.
For the past few months, I have been telling you and other members of the managing committee that we need to change in order to be successful. We need to focus on our clients and what their problems and issues are. We need to rebuild our website so that it contains valuable content instead of “brochureware” and becomes a rich resource for our clients and prospects. We need to make sure it is mobile responsive, so that it can be accessed by phone, tablet or any other device at any time, from anywhere. We need to develop a content marketing strategy and train the lawyers in the firm how to use LinkedIn and other social media channels and tools to enhance their reputation, generate leads and drive new business.
We also need to look at how our clients are working and collaborating with each other and implement the use of collaborative technologies so that our staff and lawyers can communicate and collaborate more effectively and become more nimble and productive.
We need to look at our culture and find ways to compensate attorneys for their business development and knowledge sharing efforts.
We need to employ competitive intelligence tools and methods to uncover opportunities and develop a way to innovate and go after emerging markets.
Finally, we need to look at the overall client experience, from the first meeting, to the way clients are cared for and looked after long after their matter has been settled. Every bit of the client journey matters, and our clients need to feel that they are being treated with dignity and consideration, each with their individual needs, problems and goals. We can no longer employ a cookie cutter approach to business. Our clients want and deserve a customized approach to their problems.
I have been asking, no pleading, for change but it has been all for naught. Instead of listening to my advice and taking the steps necessary to arm me with the tools and resources I need to succeed, you continue to direct me to publish worthless, self-serving news and press releases on our website and through our social media properties.
Instead of focusing on what our clients need, you ask me to send letters to reporters to make sure they know you have been elected to the 2017 edition of Super Lawyers as the top practitioner in your field. Instead of giving me the resources to develop a sound and comprehensive content marketing strategy, you continue to waste my time and ask me to find out why our firm was not ranked as highly as that other firm on Chambers. It makes no difference that I told you that at the recent Legal Marketing Association’s General Counsel Forum, all three of the panelists (General Counsels) indicated that they paid absolutely no attention to lawyer or law firm rankings and awards.
A time for change has come. I need to join a firm that understands what it means to be client centric. I want to work for a firm that truly understands how to leverage technology to enhance the work that they produce and enhance the lives of all of those that produce the work. I want to work for a firm that truly cares about the clients it serves and works diligently to provide genuine value and an amazing client experience.
I wish you the best and hope that someday you realize that the world has changed. It is time to adapt or become extinct.
Does this letter reflect some of the frustrations you face as a legal marketer at your firm? What other issues or things do you find frustrating? What would you add to this letter? Please share with us. You would be surprised by how many other legal marketers feel the same way.
Updated and republished May 26, 2017.