Inside Perspective: How to Bring Value as a Smaller-Firm Legal Marketer

by JD Supra Perspectives
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It’s a tough job to be a professional in a law firm who doesn’t hold a JD (or even a non-practicing JD). Many of us are tasked with doing more with less. On top of that, we tend to be the “faces” of the firm – especially when you’re in a smaller firm and/or a smaller department.

As someone whose role is marketing communications, I have spent years researching and honing skills to make my job easier, more efficient, and valuable. So here are some tips to do just that:

  • Newbies, get to know your people. If you’re new to your firm, attend any and all internal functions. This may be way out of your comfort zone if you’re an introvert, but it could provide a worthy payoff. You’ll start to learn personalities, how they unwind, and what makes them comfortable. You also build rapport with the people you’re working with. It’s good to have a friendly relationship that doesn’t involve work product - it helps them to trust you.
  • No shop-talk. This may be an odd one. I’ve learned that attorneys hate it when I try to get work product from them at a social function. They tend to avoid you if that’s your M.O., so make it a rule that you don’t talk about work unless they bring it up. I find this more effective, as they tend to feel guilty and are quicker to give you what you need. 
  • Manage your tasks. That whole do-more-with-less thing can make it difficult to keep track of everything you need to do (or even remember them all!). There are a lot of great online tools you can use, but before you start on the technology part, I encourage you to read up on David Allen’s Getting Things Done method (there’s a book, but there are some great online resources if you search). It’s basically a process for intaking tasks, making sure you have a method to get all of the necessary information in one location in order to prioritize. A lot of it is self-reflective, taking note of how you operate. I find that I have several different methods for task intake - among them: writing sticky notes, keeping a general list, and even emailing myself. All those methods eventually filter into my task manager, Asana. It’s a pretty robust tool, but there are hundreds of others. Wunderlist, Trello (a visual board in the Kanban style), or even Outlook tasks. It depends on how you work and what you need (alerts, reoccurring tasks, multiple members, etc.). The key here is consistency. The bonus is that if anyone on my team asks me about the status of a project, I can instantly pull it up from any of my devices and tell them (I’ve got two kids and little memory left).
  • Monitor news sources. Since our firm does a lot of PR, I subscribe to a lot of news outlets and blogs. If any interesting article comes along in one of my attorney’s area of expertise, I like to forward it. But like tasks, I have a hard time remembering all of those sources or even remembering to visit them. Enter the RSS reader: it aggregates content from those sources in one location. It sort of works like email, where as you read articles, they’re marked as read. Feedly is a popular app for this, available on the web and has apps on all types of mobile devices, and is a “freemium.” For a simpler feed, Outlook has an RSS function that truly works like email. 
  • Use Google Alerts. This service has been around for a while, but it’s an extremely valuable tool. Create alerts on your firm (including misspellings), every attorney, and even yourself. Google searches for new content based on your search terms. You can choose to receive alerts as an email or as an RSS feed (see point above). It’s a good way to stay on top of your reputation. So important, in fact, you should make this a part of your attorney-intake process. 
  • Learn (and record) attorney preferences. Every attorney has a particular way of working. In my world, some loathe the Oxford comma. Others may prefer things in hardcopy. Whatever the quirk is, write it down. It saves time of having to ask and wait for a reply. Apps like Evernote and OneNote, if you’re a MS Office user, sync across platforms. Even use the Notes feature in Outlook. Make it the location where you save references. These platforms are also useful for storing notes from meetings and are easily shareable.

An earlier version of this article appeared in the Dec 2017/Jan 2018 edition of ALAMN’s The Verdict. 

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[Laura Toledo is the Communications and Marketing Manager at law firm Nilan Johnson Lewis in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Follow her on JD Supra; connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

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