Big law doesn’t understand branding

As reported by “Above the Law”  at the recent PLI  Law Firm Leadership and Management Institute, Bill Pearlstein of WilmerHale answered the question of “”Why must law firms be strategic?” by showing he doesn’t know what that means.  He said that the question was what do you want clients and lawyers in your firm to think of when you firm is mentioned.  He went on to cite the strongest practice areas of the firm.

Where to start.  First, listing practice groups as an answer to the question of why law firms must be strategic completely misses the point.  Second his reformulation of the question as being what “clients and your lawyers” think of the firm is too broad and too narrow.   First, don’t worry about what your lawyers think about the firm.  They should be told what firm’s message is and told to learn to repeat it succinctly with comfort and ease.   Second, the firm should be shaping the thinking not just of clients but also prospects, referrals and the general public that can help shape the buzz about the firm.

An illustration: What if Allstate insurance decided that the best brand strategy for the company was for people to know that Allstate sold car, home and life insurance policies rather than that they were the “good hands” people?  

Lesson: lawyers don’t think like marketing people and that’s okay.  What isn’t okay is when they think they know what they don’t know and end up getting quoted at seminars as if they do know what they don’t know.

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