How to Discuss Innovation and Strategy with Lawyers

Nathan Darling, the Director of Client Development and Marketing for Van Ness Feldman in Washington, DC, and the 2010 President of LMA International, has the following suggestions for marketers who want to "brainstorm" ideas with their firm lawyers.

1. Frame such sessions as "strategy sessions" rather than "brainstorming."  In my experience many lawyers (many people in general!) don't like the idea of brainstorming - too soft and squishy. 

2. On that note, I've found it hard sometimes to get a group of lawyers from a blank page to something useful.  They (again, with exceptions) don't typically do well when asked to "picture this" or "set a vision" - too abstract.  Instead, engage their desire (and training) for facts and completeness, and ask questions such as "list  clients or prospective clients who might have a need for our services in x area." 

Likewise, using "if, then" constructions often appeals to lawyers' logical minds.  For example, rather than asking for any ideas as to how the firm could build the x practice, consider breaking the session into a series of if-then questions such as "if we want more work from x types of clients, then what steps must we take/who must we get to know, etc." 

A different way of doing this is not to start from a blank page, but to offer a strawman set of proposals, questions, etc. to which the group can react.  The lawyers must see this exercise as absolutely relevant to what they do.

To see more of Darling's suggestions, visit the Law Firm 4.0 Blog.