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Will COVID-19 Change Law Firms for the Better? Lynn Foley is Optimistic

Legal marketing having video call on laptop at home

I was recently invited to contribute to the Legal Marketing Association’s (LMA) 12 Days of Social & Digital Media. In this initiative of the LMA Social & Digital Media Special Interest Group (SIG), of which I am the immediate past co-chair, legal marketers reflect on the previous year in order to strategize for the year ahead.

2020 was unlike any year in living memory. The challenges were immense, and while many law firms rebounded after an initial shock, the pressure on the legal marketing profession was significant and many departments had to contend with slashed budgets, furloughs, and rapid pivot to remote working operations and digital platforms.

But legal marketers are “extraordinarily resilient” as the 2021 LMA Social & Digital Media SIG co-chairs, Katherine Rivera and Meghan Spradling, note in their executive summary of the 12 Days of Social & Digital Media.

In answering three questions provided by the team, I noted that having weathered the storm, law firms have become more open to new ideas. There is also a growing appreciation in legal for the importance of mental health.

A copy of my submission for the 12 Days of Social & Digital Media is provided below:

As we look ahead to 2021, what are you most excited about with regards to the legal social/digital space?

It’s said that “necessity is the mother of invention”. The immense constraints of this past year have resulted in law firms and lawyers gaining a new appreciation for the usefulness of social media and other digital channels. I see this is as a necessary evolution for legal, which has often been a late adopter of methods shown to be effective in other complex industries and markets.

I’m thrilled to see law firms experimenting with new strategies, tech, and platforms. I’m equally excited to see firms listening attentively to legal marketing professionals. Many of our in-house legal marketing colleagues have been pushing their firms for years to embrace social media, digital marketing, and data-driven methods. Now firms are starting to listen more closely to innovative ideas. Our profession, and our industry, stand to benefit immensely.

What digital or social media campaign/effort are you most proud of and why?

That’s easy! The campaign I’m most proud of is for the Legal Marketing Mental Wellness Survey.

Mental health and wellness have always been key issues for the team at fSquared Marketing. When we realized that there was a marked lack of data on the mental wellbeing of legal marketers, we resolved to conduct our own research to share with our community to use as they needed.

In 2019, we conducted the first Legal Marketing Mental Wellness Survey. In 2020 we knew we wanted to reach a wider audience so, in partnership with the Legal Marketing Association, we set about designing a digital and social media awareness campaign with two goals – firstly to get as many members of our community as possible to take part in the survey and secondly, to share the research report with everyone who would find it informative and, potentially, validating. We expanded the survey to include legal marketing service providers who we also needed to reach.

There were many moving pieces of the campaign. We not only created the online survey, but we also created dozens of graphically designed and ‘branded’ pieces, producing elements for social media including video, and for the LMA to share on the website and through the Strategies magazine. We created a content calendar for each step of the process. This was necessary to ensure that we reached our target audience at every stage, from raising awareness and getting people comfortable sharing their thoughts on such a sensitive topic, to sharing the survey link and collecting data, to distributing the report to thousands of LMA members and others in our industry.

It was all worth it though as we greatly expanded the reach of the survey from the previous year, collecting responses from more than 400 law firm marketing professionals, as well as dozens of legal marketing service providers, across the U.S., Canada, and at firms around the world. The link to the survey report was distributed to thousands of LMA members and others in our community and almost 700 people downloaded the research report.

As law firms engage more and more with social media, how are you seeing social and digital media relate to your SIG/committee/task force area?

As the new Co-Chair of the Well-Being Committee, and the out-going Co-Chair of the Social and Digital Media SIG, I’m closely looking at how law firms are using, and will continue to use, social and digital tools to support their employees and leverage technology to ease the added stress that comes with the COVID-19 pandemic. We received feedback in the Legal Marketing Mental Wellness Survey that often programs that law firms have put in place to alleviate stress remain unused as availing of them simply takes time away from the workload that still needs to be completed.

I’m hoping to see digital tools being embraced by our firms as mediums to bring efficiency, solutions, and techniques to our industry. I’m hoping to see social media reassert its powers for community-building and giving instead of acting as a pressure-cooker for angst and vitriol. I hope that law firms do not simply pay lip service to well-being to check a box on an RFP and instead institute initiatives that will make measurable changes to the wellbeing of our community.

I look forward as the Co-Chair of the Well-Being Committee to doing my part to move us in the right direction.

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