I was lucky enough to attend the LMA Mid-Atlantic Conference last week, the first event of its kind in DC for three years. There were so many talks and key takeaways that it was hard to distil it down but I have given it a go below...
#1 Proactive, timely content is what your clients want:
Word for word, Jerry Howe (General Counsel at Leidos and former Partner at Fried Frank) a panel of General Counsel said: “I really value when my outside counsel is thinking of something of particular interest to me. They are personalising that information for me. That gets my attention. Then, we move to a relationship where we are both proactively engaging one another to solve problems rather than reacting when something goes wrong. That is a big change. That is a trusted adviser."
#2 Discovery beats strategy:
Phill McGowan (Global Director of Communications, Reed Smith) led a 30-minute masterclass with our very own James Barclay on building an agile, innovative team to deliver critical projects in the midst of all the other day-to-day activities: "Lead by design: operates under the premise that most of what you will do will 'die on the vine' as you make progress." The whole team is then empowered to make these mistakes and build a better end product.
Phill placed real emphasis on just getting going using the analogy of "building the runway as you are taking off". Moreover, he gave confidence to other firms, "You do not need to spend thousands and put together a blockbuster report to make a significant impact on your target market." The goal is to be found online, using digestible content to put your team on a pedestal. This can be done in minutes. Not weeks! Using Passle 30 Reed Smith attorneys started sharing their insights focused on ESG immediately. By the time of the official ESG program launch, they had published over 90 posts showcasing their sector knowledge.
#3 Mental health awareness in professional services is changing
I have never sat in a talk where the attendees whooped after every proclamation by the speakers. Jenny Conley, Cameron Ellis and EJ Stern set a new precedent for the quality of panel discussions, as they elucidated how they and their firms are approaching the issue of burnout, mental health and longevity. In short, things are actually changing but the real emphasis was to foster allyship among the attendees and to be the change they are seeking at their firm.
#4 Diversity, inclusion and equity are immensely important
The GC panel kicked off the day by talking about the need to not only hire inclusive and diverse firms but to see that representation throughout the duration of the business relationship.
Maura Brandt (CMO, Crowell & Moring) spoke on the immense importance of DE & I citing that 77% of suppliers care immensely about what their firm is doing whilst 85% want to see improvement and 'real movement.'
At Crowell & Moring, she cites the power of the Business Development and Marketing function to not only drive change but to deliver a strong impact across the business and for their clients. Her team has the ability to tell real stories and help empower the leadership to take a stand. Other ideas she shared when telling the DE&I story were:
- Brevity is so important. Quick hits to inspire and learn from.
- Make your brand more than just a website: a dynamic, visual home for your brand story.
- Leverage report cards or 'one pagers' that show progress and equip everyone in the business to tell that story.
Overall what this event reinforced for me is that there are two key themes front of mind in legal Marketing and BD right now:
- The best firms are blending digital and physical experiences through strategic, data-driven and timely experiences.
- Inclusion is now a central part of every business decision - and showing authentic progress is key to growing your business.