A thought leadership program centered around your law firm’s executives can make your firm shine in the eyes of clients and potential hires.
When we think about thought leadership at law firms, we almost always think about thought leadership in the context of the substantive practice of law.
We think about attorneys demonstrating their knowledge and wisdom regarding the areas of law they practice in the form of blog posts, bylined articles, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, etc.
That form of thought leadership is unlikely to go away anytime soon. So long as there are past, current, and prospective clients and referral sources to provide knowledge and information to regarding legal issues, there will be opportunities and demand for attorneys to publish thought leadership content regarding the areas of law they practice.
But attorney-centric thought leadership is not the only thought leadership that should be coming out of law firms.
The case for a thought leadership program for your law firm’s executives
There’s a big opportunity out there for law firm executives to provide thought leadership regarding the areas of their firms they manage.
Why? Because there are few law firm executives doing so currently. That means the executives who start publishing thought leadership content can make a name for themselves and position themselves and their firms as thought leaders regarding the areas of their expertise in a marketplace of ideas that is not crowded at the moment.
When I say “law firm executives,” I mean the people at law firms with job titles like:
- Chief Executive Officer;
- Chief Operating Officer;
- Chief Information Officer;
- Chief Technology Officer;
- Director of Recruiting;
- Director of Associate Development;
- Director of Lateral Attorney Integration; and
- Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Chances are there are probably at least a few executives at your firm who have thoughts they want to share with the world about best practices for doing what they do at your firm. Depending on how ambitious your firm wants to be, it can create a thought leadership platform for all these executives to at least dip their toes in.
But unlike some “Notes from the CEO”-type thought-leadership platforms, creating a platform for your firm’s executives should not be a vanity play for them.
Instead, it should be a strategic approach to helping your firm shine in the eyes of its past, current, and prospective clients, referral sources, and attorneys and staff.
That’s because law firm executives’ thought leadership is a rising tide that lifts all boats. Not only will these executives come across as thought leaders, but your firm will look good regarding the areas those executives lead at your firm.
For example, if your Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is consistently talking about effective and innovative ways to better incorporate DEI into your firm’s operations, clients, attorneys, and staff who value DEI will look at your firm as a leader in the space because the person leading DEI efforts at the firm is knowledgable and wise about DEI (and not afraid to discuss it with the world).
Thus, this executive’s thought leadership platform could help your firm’s marketing, business development, and recruiting efforts.
Likewise, if your Chief Operating Officer or Director of Facilities is talking about what makes for an inviting post-COVID law firm office, or that your firm is rethinking the traditional lack of remote work options it previously offered, attorneys and staff—including would-be laterals—who value innovative office design or remote working will look at your firm as a leader in the space for that same reason.
Thus, this executive’s thought leadership platform could help your firm’s recruiting efforts.
Same thing goes for your Chief Information Officer talking about the need for law firms to take innovative approaches to protecting client data, or your Director of Lateral Attorney Integration talking about current best practices and trends for integrating lateral attorneys.
Through this content, an executive—and, in turn, your law firm—can be perceived as a leader in the areas they manage at your firm, which can be a boon to your firm’s marketing, business development, and recruitment efforts.
Creating a thought leadership platform for your firm’s executives
Once you’ve come to realize that one or more of your law firm’s executives deserve a thought leadership platform, it is time to build one. While there are a number of paths you could start them on—articles submitted to third-party publications, social media posts, videos, a podcast—I suggest your firm start modestly with a blog hosted on its website.
Starting with a blog allows your firm to give interested executives a chance to see how they feel about producing thought leadership on (hopefully) a consistent basis without some of the pressure other formats might cause.
Your firm’s executives won’t have to worry about word counts or strict deadlines (bylined articles), how they look on camera (videos), or how they sound on recorded audio (podcasts). They will be free to focus on the substance of their thought leadership, which will likely include best practices regarding the areas they manage at your firm, struggles the legal industry is facing regarding those areas, the future of those areas, etc.
Once your firm’s executives gain traction with their thought leadership, your firm may want to explore repurposing those executives’ ideas in other thought leadership formats. But there’s no need to rush repurposing and broad distribution of their thought leadership before they hit their stride and are confident in their ability to produce such content.
Take advantage of the dearth of law firm executives’ thought leadership in the marketplace today
To be sure, not every member of your firm’s executive team is going to want to create thought leadership content.
Some will not even want to give it a trial run.
Others will, but it will be a short run.
Still others will be interested in this initiative but will struggle with their ability to consistently produce content or to come up with the ideas that will become content.
(For this latter group, your firm could provide those executives resources—internal or external—that will help them conceive of ideas and produce the content.)
But I would hazard a guess that at least a few members of your firm’s executive team would be excited to test out drafting and publishing thought leadership content. They have thoughts about the work they do for your firm and the bigger picture regarding that work, and they want to start sharing those thoughts with the world.
Just like attorney-centric thought leadership reflects well on the ability for a law firm to practice the areas of law covered by its attorneys’ thought leadership, law firm executives’ thought leadership will reflect well on the operations of a law firm.
For that reason, and the dearth of law firm executive thought leadership currently in the marketplace of ideas, there’s no time like now for your firm to give its executives a platform on which they can take their first steps on their thought leadership journey.
Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service helps Big Law and boutique law firm partners, and their firms, grow their practices by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.
Interested in getting outside help with launching your law firm’s executives’ thought leadership platforms? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside strategist and writer is the right move for those executives and your firm.