Much of what lawyers do flies under the radar and they are often in the shadow of company executives, thrusting entrepreneurs, and brash investment bankers.
Yet without them the mergers, financings, joint ventures, and bond issues don’t happen.
As a successful partner at a large London law firm said to me recently:
I get called a couple of times a year by researchers at legal directories and reporters at newspapers, and I actually like those moments, because I can step outside what I do every day – the narrow confines of my work – and think more broadly about my practice and the market.
My job to most people is boring – I prepare loan documents and negotiate finance agreements, but it’s taken years of hard work to get here.
Like a lot of lawyers, I don’t talk to my family and friends about my work, so if I’m nominated for an award or recognized in a publication, it means a lot to me.”
A fellow legal marketer at a law firm in the US, with his permission, allowed me to repeat this story below, which he posted online last month.
It’s a wonderful anecdote and really sums up why it’s important to appreciate what others do, and to be appreciated yourself for your professional achievements.
As legal marketers, we rail against awards constantly and their feverish pull at attorneys’ egos in an effort to sell plaques and print space.
They are complained about in every legal marketing forum, conference and watercooler.
I have done more than my share.
But one day I was dropping off a pitch book to an attorney after hours and he and his son were in his office decked out in their baseball stuff.
His son was 8 or 9, really cool kid.
I visited for a few minutes.
His dad had a Super Lawyers plaque up and his son read it and said, “Dad, that’s so awesome!”
Dad was blushing, his son was so excited.
His dad works a job where practically everyone that hires him is annoyed to have to do so, he’s one of their least favorite line items in their budgets even if they like him personally.
His work is done in an office, usually alone, often late at night and on weekends.
I asked his dad to do a lot of things for the benefit of the firm.
Introduce long-term clients to fairly new lateral hires.
Attend trade shows on weekends.
Publish writing without pay.
He did all of those things and helped grow the firm and did so without too much pushback.
Over 90% of his life’s work was going to go unnoticed and the other 10% would go underappreciated.
He was seen, by his clients and oftentimes the world at large, as a necessary cog in an annoying machine.
His son saw that plaque and, being 8 or 9 and having no idea really what his dad does, instantly knew that his Dad was really good at something.
The next year I reversed my own longstanding bullishness and successfully lobbied a cynical executive committee to allow plaques to go into the marketing budget (with limitations, of course, and only for those well-recognized listings/awards).
It had no value to the clients, I had not changed my mind about that.
From a marketing standpoint, it had no value.
But it had value.
It may not have been an optimal strategy or efficient use of resources.
But it had value.”