Lynn Foley, CEO of fSquared Marketing, recently joined a panel of experts to examine issues of stress and mental wellbeing among law firm professionals.
Dylan Jackson, a journalist for American Lawyer, moderated the discussion. Jackson has written several articles on this topic as part of Law.com’s “Minds Over Matters” project, a yearlong investigation into mental health across every sector of the legal profession.
By focusing on business and marketing professionals (often condescendingly referred to as “non-lawyers”) this podcast helped to broaden the focus of the discussion beyond attorney wellbeing. Unfortunately, the legal industry can also be stressful for professional staff and they are often left out of initiatives aimed at addressing these issues.
fSquared Marketing’s “Legal Marketing Mental Wellness Survey” helped to set the table for a fruitful conversation. Foley noted that her experience working in-house at White & Case and other firms showed her the importance of relying on facts and statistics, instead of personal opinions, to drive useful discussions.
Patrick Krill, founder of Krill Strategies, noted that much of the data available prior to the fSquared Marketing’s report was focused on attorneys. In many ways, this scarcity of data limited the conversations around mental health in legal.
Deborah Farone, head of Farone Advisors, observed that marketing staff have to contend with many of the same stressors as attorneys, but often have fewer resources at their disposal. Farone noted that marketers’ high levels of stress are the result of high expectations, compounded by their lower status at law firms. This is backed up by fSquared Marketing’s survey; 51% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “There is a lack of respect for me/my role by the lawyers”. Jackson has referred to this rigid hierarchy, with partners at the apex and staff occupying in the lower rungs, as a “caste system”.
While law firms face similar pressures, structures and cultures vary widely. As Krill noted, perfectionism is an issue for attorneys in every area of law. This can negatively affect staff when demands become unreasonable. However, Krill noted, perfectionism stems from client expectations; “The standards are what they are for delivering excellent client service”. However, law firms can improve the situation for staff through better training—including management training—and by providing adequate support.
Krill made an astute observation that legal marketers have “a unique and highly valuable perspective on how people might be doing in terms of their mental health and wellbeing”. This is another reason why bringing staff into the conversation is vital.
Here at fSquared Marketing, we’re not HR professionals or wellness consultants. What we are is legal marketing professionals and we care deeply about the state of our profession. We know that when attorneys and marketers collaborate within a culture of respect, their law firms enjoy a strategic advantage.
Looking to empower your marketing team? fSquared Marketing offers training and on-going and project-based support for a full range of marketing and business development services. Get in touch today to learn how we can help your staff breathe a little easier while helping your firm achieve its goals.