As we near the end of 2011, I’m still compiling my list of 10 developments in the legal marketing profession after, in August, completing my first 10 years in the field.  Earlier, I mentioned two of the top developments as being the increasing power of buyers of legal services, and the advent of social media.  Here’s my third selection:  the increasing competence and creativity of those in legal sales and marketing.

After entering the field of legal sales and marketing in 2001, I, at first, attended a few of the standard gatherings of legal marketers; there were few if any legal sales professionals then.  Frankly, I found the discussions hard to abide, as many law firm marketers came off basically as junior versions of the lawyers for whom they worked, chastising the notion of “nonlawyers” interfacing with clients and prospective clients and driving results.  Blanching at the word “sales.”  Locked into convention and coloring within the lines.

And so, at the time, when I went looking for guidance and inspiration, I turned to gatherings of sales and marketing leaders from other segments such as consulting, advertising and technology.  These meetings were a bit more “out there” than were the legal marketing meetings I attended, and the attendees were clearly leading and willing their organizations to greatness and not all that worried about professional propriety.

I’ve spent more time again the last couple of years at gatherings of legal marketing – and now, sales – professionals.  How things have changed!  The field is now densely populated with a higher level of professional, many of them joining law firms after highly productive stints in other industries.  They are bringing their experience, their leadership, their creativity and their willingness to take big risks to do what the legal profession has lacked.  They challenge conventional wisdom.  They do not wait for lawyers – who just don’t, as a rule, have the aptitude for or training in sales and marketing – to lead.  These new creative forces in legal sales and marketing are influential change agents with deep experience, ideas, emotional intelligence and fresh perspectives. Today, when I attend gatherings of legal sales and marketing professionals, I am inspired by them, and I invariably depart with a bucket full of new ideas and insights.  And I LOVE it that there are other grenade-throwers in attendance.  This is a huge change over what I perceived a decade ago. 

So, at 10 years and counting, my hat is off to law firms’ new and emerging sales and marketing leaders!  We’re getting there.