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PROFESSIONAL SERVICES BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING INSIGHTS

| 4 minutes read

CMO Series Live 2024: General Counsel Panel

At CMO Series Live 2024, we heard from legal marketing experts from across the industry, we heard from Chief Operating Officers of leading law firms, and we heard from CMOs, CROs & CBDOs. 

Most importantly, we heard from law firm clients - General Counsels.

It was my pleasure to host the closing panel of the day, which brought together four brilliant General Counsels to discuss what firms can do to position themselves as the best and first choice.

Here are some of the highlights from that discussion.

Our General Counsel:

  • Lisa Anastos, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel at Ideaquest
  • Julie Aslasken, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Host Hotels
  • Brian Rauch, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel at Harvard Maintenance
  • Alex Dimitref, Senior Vice President, General Counsel at Sotera Health Group

Your outreach has to be relevant and helpful. Every time.

Imagine an inbox full of noise. GCs receive a constant stream of irrelevant stuff. Anything that you send to a prospective client that doesn't seem relevant or personalized will be ignored - and most likely, so will your firm.

General Counsel spend more than 8 hours per week staying up to date on thought leadership. Yet most of that time occurs on the weekend, after work or at some other margin of the day far away from their desk.

The most effective outreach is a tailored, bite-sized insight into what that company needs to know today, keeping your contact up-to-date. As Brian said, “Show that you know me in your alerts, anything that seems generic - or like noise - will be ignored".

Julie pointed out that Monday (or Tuesday) was a bad time to be sending thought leadership. Most of their reading happens over the weekend. Keep your content bite-sized and include a link to further reading.


Have an answer to “Why do you want to work for us?”

Among some funny anecdotes about what not to do, we heard much about what makes a General Counsel tick. 
Alex, an established author and adjunct professor at Harvard and New York Law School, had come out of retirement because he believes so much in the company he works for. Likewise, Lisa, Brian and Julie believe so strongly in their companies, that they spend their days fighting tooth and nail to build these impressive organizations and protect them.

That is the starting point that you and your lawyers need to understand. You must have the answer to “Why do you want to work with us?” That answer better not include a reference to the size of potential billings.

The only way to answer that question is to approach yourself as an expert, with a genuine interest in the prospect or client, and its challenges, both legal and business. As Brian put it, “I don't expect you to understand my company as well as I do, but I need your expertise. I've got a lot of time for those who can genuinely take an interest in our challenges and offer the best advice.”


Why are you the best law firm?

The lawyers at your firm know their subject matter, they understand the nuances that clients need to know. Yet they may not be the most suited at articulating why your firm is the best choice.

Lisa put it best when she said: ‘You have to explain why your firm is the better choice. That’s where CMO's can help their lawyers to make the case. 

Show your expertise, show what you can bring. Give examples of people you've worked with and deals you've assisted on. You are making an argument as to why GCs should work with you. Your lawyers aren't necessarily the best at that.'

 

Connect peer-to-peer

Trust is key in any relationship, and it is especially so when looking after General Counsel. 

Julie raised the point that it was a goal for their team to re-engage with their supplier law firms on a personal level. That isn't just with her as the General Counsel, that means her entire team.

It was a continuing theme that the best suppliers will build deep relationships at all levels of engagement. Alex's point was that especially at larger firms, most of the decision-making for which supplier to engage with for a particular matter is made throughout the wider team. The decision to go or not go with a law firm is always “nearly fully baked” before it is time for the GC to approve it.

So, respect and engagement should happen between all levels of your firm and the company you are working with (or trying to work with). Don't disrespect the most junior person. The “kiss of death” for many supplier law firms has been when someone returns a GC's emails immediately out does not return the emails from juniors. Good word spreads up, so build relationships throughout all levels of a client or prospect organization.
 

 

Thanks to Lisa, Julie, Brian and Alex for lending us their time and expertise.

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events, cmoserieslive, cmosl24, e2e, marketing, professional services