Alas, I’m not in Orlando, the city born of fantasy in a bipolar state whose claim to fame is warmth and swamps, and so I won’t be able to share in the glow of finally being among those who share low self-esteem and the need to surround themselves with others who pray they can persuade the fools of the legal profession to loosen their mighty grip on their few remaining dollars. But I’m with you in spirit and want to offer my best wishes for a fabulous few days.
For three days, you can call yourselves professionals. Not in the sense of having survived a course of education designed to provide you with knowledge and ability to perform a task, nor in the sense of having a code of ethics, the violation of which will send you to the pokey and prevent your bulk emails offering your services to the unsuspecting, or even in the sense that you’ve been tested and found sufficiently competent to take responsibility for others. No, not that kind of professional. The kind of professional that allows you to believe, against all odds, reason and the laws of physics, that you are worthy of respect.
My dear friend, Adrian Dayton, summed it up beautifully, and I want to share with you his words:
Legal marketers have the unique distinction of being defined by something they are not: lawyers. The legal profession is the only profession that calls everybody that isn’t a lawyer a non-lawyer. (You would never hear a nurse at a hospital be called a “non-doctor” or a project manager on a build site a “non-engineer.”) You would never mention the fact that the vast majority of lawyers and even managing partners should have the title non-marketer, yet legal marketers are described in these “non” terms. They work in an organization where they are often relegated to a status that isn’t given the respect it deserves.
For the next three days, call us “non-marketers.” Laugh at us. Tell stories about us. Regale your brothers and sisters with tales of how some lawyer kept talking about ethics and codes of professional responsibility, while all the time expecting you to sell their mutt of a firm to the public as if they were the next best thing since sliced bread. Hah, those lawyers!
Sure, there are a few snake oil salesmen by the pool, drinking their piña coladas as if nobody notices, but that’s not you. You want to serve, to earn your fee, to turn that desperate, hungry, non-marketing kid into a money-making juggernaut. You are proud of your efforts, and that’s why you’re in Orlando! After all, it’s not just for the great weather, right?
No, you’re here to learn, to better yourself, because that’s what professionals do. What will be the message this time? Well, that has yet to be seen. After all, remember a few years ago, when QR codes were the magic secret that was going to change everything? That came after SEO was the cure for the disease of insolvency. Then there was keyword rich text in blogs, that would turn the nobody into the king of Google’s page 1. Remember? Good times.
So what if everything you ever learned at LMAs past turned out to be crap. So what if it was just the flavor of the day, and before your plane landed on the ride home, it was debunked as worthless crap that would do nothing to help a non-marketer land a case or make a buck.
And there will always be the great information that changed your entire view of life. You know, like don’t get caught lying, and be authentic. What a great presentation that was when you were told that people are more inclined to hire lawyers they like than lawyers they hate. Who knew?
So what that they also want lawyers who are competent. Your job isn’t to make them decent lawyers, but make them look like decent lawyers. Those non-marketers just don’t get it.
So enjoy, my professional marketing friends. Suck in the sun and the fabulous information that will be shared, as well as the face time with those who feel the same pain and shame as you do at being expected to turn that sinking ship of a law firm around, or that kid with less experience than a gnat into the next Clarence Darrow. Hey, it’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it.
And if you miss a seminar, don’t sweat it. It’s not like the latest scheme Is going to work any better than the last one, or the one before that. Go, hang by the pool and enjoy a piña colada. And think of me, just as I’ll be thinking of you.