skip to main content
Open Sharing Icons
Posted in:LMA

Key Takeaways from the 2024 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference – Part One

Blog Post

The legal marketing world integrates the complexities of law with the ever-evolving landscape of modern marketing, offering a dynamic space for creativity, strategy, and legal expertise. Every year, legal marketers from around the world come together to attend the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Annual Conference, intent on discovering the latest trends, exchanging insights, and gaining invaluable knowledge from industry leaders.

Not wanting to miss out on this unique opportunity, a few of our strategists had the honour of attending the 2024 LMA Annual Conference in San Diego, California, from April 3rd to 5th. Morgan MacLeod, Andrea Falcone, Meagan Ellison, and Kaitlyn Pacheco-Azurdia proudly represented Cubicle Fugitive at the conference, actively promoting awareness of our brand, marketing, and web design services at our booth and gaining niche marketing knowledge at the immersive educational sessions.

What is the LMA?

The Legal Marketing Association (LMA) is a professional organization that serves as the authority for legal marketers worldwide. Dedicated to supporting the legal marketing community, the LMA provides a platform for professionals to network, share insights, and access resources to enhance their knowledge and skills. It offers educational programs, conferences, webinars, publications, and networking events tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities faced by legal marketers. Encouraging collaboration among its members, the LMA drives innovation and best practices in legal marketing strategies.

What is the LMA Annual Conference?

The LMA Annual Conference is a premier event in the legal marketing industry, bringing together professionals from around the world to explore innovative strategies, forge meaningful connections, and learn about industry developments. It typically features keynote presentations, breakout sessions, panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities designed to facilitate knowledge sharing, skill development, and professional relationships among attendees.

This year’s “ALL IN” theme inspired attendees to fully immerse themselves in the conference, embracing the wealth of expertise offered and harnessing the unique insights provided to create a lasting impact in the legal marketing industry. In total, the 2024 LMA Annual Conference featured over 140 speakers, 35 sessions, and 80 exhibitors.

Sessions Our Strategists Attended

Our strategists had the privilege of attending some very exciting sessions at the LMA Annual Conference, where they acquired valuable legal marketing knowledge. This knowledge has been summarized in a series of blog posts, allowing you to benefit from it as well. Follow along throughout our insightful blog posts on our key takeaways from the 2024 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference.

To kick things off, the remainder of this post outlines our takeaways from the pre-conference session, Achieving Business Development Success by Thinking Big, Executing Effectively and Influencing Your Bosses, held on April 3rd.  

Achieving Business Development Success by Thinking Big, Executing Effectively and Influencing Your Bosses

Co-chaired by Robin Davidson, Head of Business Development and Communications for Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, and Matt Plavnick, Director of Client Development for Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP, this pre-conference session explored the big-picture themes of business development as well as the tools and tactics that fuel its success. Outlined below are key takeaways from the sub-sessions our strategists attended.

The Intersections of BD and DEI and How You Can Make a Difference

This pre-conference sub-session, led by Michael Coston, Founder & CEO of Coston Consulting, explored innovative tactics for integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout business development initiatives.

Michael began by expressing the importance of establishing community agreements to ensure all employees are present, honest, and open to learning. He then delved into the current climate surrounding DEI within the legal industry, emphasizing the need to ensure that no one is left behind in the transitions. DEI was defined as encompassing diverse representation in all its forms, equity through workplace fairness, and inclusion that fosters meaningful contributions from all individuals.

Attendees were encouraged to “find their influence” through direct, indirect, and shared channels, fostering curiosity as a means of driving positive change. The sub-session also highlighted various obstacles and barriers to DEI, including navigating firm politics, access to decision-making rooms, invisibility and lack of recognition for different-abled individuals and people of colour, and the importance of fostering community and connectivity. Strategies for overcoming these barriers were discussed, such as becoming experts in one’s landscape, facilitating knowledge exchange, and creating and empowering ambassadors for change.

Tactics vs. Strategy: The Importance of BD Vision Amid Day-to-Day Execution

Moving onto the next sub-session, EJ Stern, Co-Founder & Principal of Fractional Law Firm CMO, and Katherine Wilson, Co-Founder & Principal of Fractional Law Firm CMO, presented the strategic process for navigating competing priorities within a firm. The process is as follows:

1. Getting a Seat at the Strategic Table

To begin, the discussion revolved around aligning firm objectives with overarching goals and priorities. This can be achieved by leveraging a unique perspective rooted in competitive analysis and a through understanding of the legal landscape. The speakers then noted the importance of efficient resource allocation, emphasizing that resources should be deployed on pivotal initiatives. The utilization of AI and its potential benefits and risks were also discussed as a way of adapting and innovating to stay ahead of the curve.

Overall, attendees were advised to adopt a multifaceted approach encompassing active listening, comprehensive understanding, effective communication, and demonstrative action to earn their place at the strategic table.

2. Utilizing Data for Fact-Based Decisions

A data-centric strategy was advocated, leveraging pre-and-post-event survey insights to gauge attendee motivations and potential client connections. Additionally, quarterly data reviews can facilitate the tracking of evolution over time, with an emphasis on actionable insights. Practical tools like “Everything cards” and Siteimprove were suggested for enhancing operational efficiency and visitor engagement.

3. Navigating Competing Interests and Priorities

Drawing from Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix, the speakers addressed the challenges of balancing urgent and important tasks. Attendees were prompted to prioritize activities aligned with client acquisition, retention, and growth while also considering personal and leadership development needs. The discussion centred on effective time management strategies, emphasizing the importance of strategy alignment, talent optimization, and transparent communication to drive actionable outcomes.

4. Finding Win-Win Solutions

The sub-session concluded by asking attendees to consider the available tools and talents that can be used to craft creative, strategic solutions. Attendees were also encouraged to redirect discussions toward win-win scenarios aligned with the firm’s strategic plan and practice group objectives.

Data Unlocked: Leveraging Existing Insights for Immediate Business Development Impact

Jason Boyer, Partner & Chief Marketing Officer for Deloitte Canada, Marcie Shunk, President and Founder of The Tilt Institute, and Jason Kennedy, Operational Excellence Consultant for Calibrate Legal, Inc., led this sub-session on effective methods for collecting and utilizing firm data. We have summarized the approach below.

Collecting the Data

When gathering data, you must first understand the goals of the firm to determine measurable objectives. Challenges such as reluctance from lawyers to set measurable goals were addressed, highlighting the need to establish a solid foundation and identify the specific problems to be solved. External data sources, including client feedback and insights from thought leaders, were recommended to supplement internal data.

Evaluating and Presenting the Data

The speakers explored strategies for presenting the data effectively and deriving actionable insights once it has been collected. Attendees were advised to translate data into meaningful information that is relevant to their objectives and can be used for strategic decisions, building a business case in the process to demonstrate its importance. Data should then be presented in a story-telling manner, focusing on key metrics that directly relate to client needs and ROI. The speakers suggested that lawyers use a dashboard to facilitate business development efforts when managing their relationship data and email traffic.

Customizing the Data

Finally, the sub-session touched on the importance of customizing data analysis approaches for each firm and practice area, acknowledging that one size does not fit all. Various tools, including Excel, PowerVI, and data warehouses, were discussed as valuable resources for data analysis and visualization, enabling firms to extract insights from both structured and unstructured data sources.

Elevating BD Support: Three Keys to Help You Help Them

Tasneem Khokha, Managing Director for GrowthPlay, successfully led this sub-session on building trusted partnerships with lawyers and overcoming associated barriers. She shared the following three essential disciplines for changing how lawyers perceive and engage with marketing professionals, ultimately shifting the dynamic from being a business development (BD) order taker to becoming a trusted advisor – a.k.a. a “lawyer whisperer.”

Whisperer Discipline 1 – Empathy

Empathy lies at the heart of effective communication and relationship-building. It involves understanding and sharing the feelings of another. To cultivate empathy in lawyer relationships, it’s crucial to immerse yourself in their perspective. This entails asking probing questions such as:

  • Who are we empathizing with?
  • What do they need to do?
  • What do they see?
  • What do they say?
  • What do they do?
  • What do they hear?
Whisperer Discipline 2 – Curiosity

Curiosity fuels engagement and fosters deeper connections. By asking motivating questions focused on autonomy, mastery, and purpose, marketing professionals can demonstrate a genuine interest in the goals and aspirations of a lawyer. Active listening is vital in this discipline, transcending personal biases and judgments to truly understand the lawyer’s viewpoint.

Whisperer Discipline 3 – Confidence

Confidence is the cornerstone of trust and credibility. Marketing professionals can instill confidence by embodying the “3 C’s”:

  • Competence: Demonstrating expertise and proficiency in legal marketing.
  • Conviction: Conveying the belief that lawyers are better off with your guidance.
  • Courage: Taking bold action, even in the face of uncertainty or fear.

Identifying and addressing confidence threats—such as failed first impressions or a lack of initiative—is essential for building trust. Conversely, confidence builders—such as showing enthusiasm, asking thoughtful questions, and offering assistance—can bolster credibility and rapport.

Cents & Sensibility: We Could Chase It, But Should We?

In this sub-session, Kenya Jiu, Director of Business Development for McCarter & English, and Antonella Montagna, Director of Pricing & Legal Project Management for Jones Walker, offered insights into understanding fiduciary responsibilities for legal business development.

The Importance of Financial Data

The session speakers emphasized the integral relationship between pricing and business development, highlighting key questions to consider before pursuing a business opportunity. These questions included determining the profitability of potential work, identifying the stakeholders involved in the decision-making process, and evaluating the broader impact on client relationships.

A high-level overview of pricing analysis was also provided, focusing on financial metrics such as rates, utilization, duration, and leverage. The speakers stressed the negative impact of discounts on profitability, emphasizing the disproportionate effect they have and the importance of a client-focused pricing analysis.

Profitability, Value, and Messaging

In exploring profitability, value, and messaging, the speakers discussed what qualifies as profitable work, who should be involved in decision-making conversations, and whether profitability is the sole measure in assessing business opportunities. This discussion highlighted the multifaceted nature of pricing decisions and the importance of aligning pricing strategies with client needs and values.

Related Blog Posts

Ready to start a project?

Our breadth of expertise and years of experience allows us to custom tailor solutions that are perfect for your business. Contact us to find out how.

work together.

We regularly partner with professional service firms to deliver marketing and design solutions backed by strategy and insight.

If you're looking for a firm that understands your challenges, has the expertise to provide real-world, actionable solutions and can turn you and your firm into rockstars, get in touch today. We'd love to hear from you.

Loading animation