A year ago I watched a barrage of #LMA15 tweets with interest. Dan Pink was the keynote speaker at the Legal Marketing Association’s 2015 Annual Meeting. After a clip from Glengarry Glen Ross, he talked about “Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity” as the ABCs of selling.
Starting especially with Pink’s discussion of capital-A Attunement to the buyer, it was impossible not to make connections with listening. As the live tweets recounted, “attunement” means understanding the intellectual and practical needs of sophisticated business clients. (It’s not really about general emotional intelligence, although that certainly can’t hurt.) Pink’s references to clarity also centered on helping clients find their hidden problems and curating information on point to begin to address those problems. I tried my own curation of tweets from #LMA15 on those concepts here.
Seeing the high points of Pink’s talk reinforced the fact that for many lawyers—especially those in law firms and those with repeat business of any type—legal marketing and listening are very much aligned. Legal marketing officers who visit clients and seek feedback on the firm’s work are serving as a listening channel to enhance client service and anticipate problems before they grow. As I’ve heard from a variety of sources, clients don’t really tell a firm or lawyer when they are going to pull work. It just slowly starts to dry up until there are no more matters to complete and no relationship left to tend. Listening to what clients are and are not saying is therefore crucial. It’s also extremely challenging for any single attorney also engaged in providing the legal services for that client, even a designated relationship partner with an oversight role. On a more positive note, this additional listening channel can help attorneys and firms act more responsively and anticipate client needs, perhaps finding “clarity” about hidden problems as Dan Pink mentioned in his talk.
This year I have the pleasure of actually attending the #LMA16 conference in Austin. I’ll be speaking Tuesday afternoon on how legal marketing professionals could explore potential roles as writing coaches and trainers for attorneys, motivating and encouraging them to blog. This session will focus on writing topics such as writing style for screen readers; methods for choosing good examples and discussing what makes them good; and conditions associated with satisfaction and productivity in legal blogging. (I teach a law-school class in blogging and have published a research article on blogging and other public legal writing in the Legal Communication and Rhetoric: JALWD journal.)
Apart from all the focus on writing, my session at #LMA16 will emphasize listening among colleagues—colleagues serving different but complementary roles in the firm, namely legal marketers and attorneys who write the legal blog posts. If a recent LexisNexis survey is correct that a majority of representative law firms are planning to do more blogging to generate business, then the question becomes how that additional blogging is going to occur. Maintaining open lines of communication between attorneys and legal marketing professionals seems like part of the answer. Other sessions at #LMA16 will address collaboration and communication inside the firm in many other ways.