My dear friend Amanda Loesch the chief marketing officer at Porzio, published an article on LinkedIn yesterday, and I asked her if I could make it a guest column on my blog because I think the message is so important – there is nothing like a global pandemic to put things in perspective.
The article focused on legal guides and award submissions and why they are still considered a priority – the publications continue to send deadlines and reminders, and it seems quite tone deaf given the fact that we are living in the midst of a public health crisis with no end date. Legal industry publications should be thinking about adapting and innovating, not pushing through as if this is business as usual. Amanda is another woman who wows, and I hope you’ll take the time to read her article.
My day started this morning with an email from a prominent legal industry news and ranking service that caught my eye. In short, the email explained that although this company’s website had crashed the night before during a ranking submission deadline, they would be making a hard cut off at 1:00 pm to stop accepting additional submissions.
Fast forward to this afternoon when another email arrived in my inbox. This email was from another major legal industry publication. The subject of the email was announcing a webinar where this publication will be detailing it’s top 100 firm rankings. That is when I lost my mind.
My inbox is full of emails on the topic of law firm and lawyer rankings. Some from publications, and many others from frantic legal marketers trying to ask for extensions to deadlines and sharing the results of those requests with our close-knit community.
Is this a valid priority right now?
We are in the middle of a global crisis that goes beyond comprehension. Our attorneys are working harder than ever to help clients and law firm employers are working tirelessly to lead and support their efforts. Yet, despite solitude, unemployment, pay cuts, and months, if not years of work wiped out over the past weeks, legal industry publications are still going to worry about how law firms and individual attorneys stack up against each other? We all have better things to do.
Time after time, our clients tell us that they don’t care about the rankings. During this crisis, clients are not searching the rankings looking for the top-ranked lawyer or firm. They are calling people who are trusted advisers, who have been referred to them by other trusted sources, and who they know will provide the highest quality service and who will work within their budget.
Have any of the legal industry publications taken into account the marketing and business development professionals tasked with this work? Many are likely working with reduced pay, and in an environment of substantial job insecurity, and with an unprecedented workload. Completing and submitting rankings applications and nominations is not first on their priority lists. For those marketers that are making this tactic a priority because they have to, I’m sure that any grace that could be shown by these publications would be appreciated. For firms that are continuing to go through this process and who do get ranked, I would advise being thoughtful and mindful as you look to communicate any results in our current environment.
Legal industry publications have an opportunity to use this situation to reinvent themselves and work to add more value to the industry. With some thought, they might realize that firms and the business professionals that work to keep them running are fighting against the clock. I am fortunate. I am with a firm that is weathering this storm, but many are not as lucky. Legal industry publications need to take a new lens to their communications and their objectives. Are your rankings serving the clients, or are they merely self-serving, with little value to be felt by the client? Reality is that inside of the firm, our days are filled with mandatory daily meetings to ensure the continued operations of the firm and a pipeline of business.
Right now, ranking submissions are not a priority, and neither are the results. This year, firms will be celebrating survival, not rankings.
Which publication will be the first to celebrate firms working together during the pandemic? Which one will be the first to recognize that there are pathways to revenue that do not pit firm against firm or lawyer against lawyer?
Perhaps this is the time for firms who have been on the fence about participating in these programs to take a step back and see what will change if they aren’t ranked. Will their clients care? What other efforts could be a focus if 5-40% of the marketing department’s time wasn’t devoted to managing and executing submissions? What is truly important to our firms? My answer: Our clients, our employees, and our communities. The rest is simply a distraction for which “the juice is not worth the squeeze.”***
***In the interest of full disclosure, I need to credit my managing partner, for this quote, which he recently used about a completely different topic, that has become a personal favorite of mine.