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December 29, 2005

"Branding" Law Firms--and One Law Student's Take

This morning, as part of the Renaissance Weekend I'm attending in Charleston, South Carolina, I was on a panel with about 10 other lawyers with marketing responsibility for their firms for a 75 minute program on marketing and branding law firms. Most of the 1800 participants here (thank God) are not practicing lawyers--I'm guessing only about 75 are. The hundreds of seminars and talks conducted over these 4 days range from health care technology, China's economy, space tourism and energy policy to television screenwriting, the US "culture war", the future of the Internet, Chaucer, and the real Renaissance. That's the stuff I came for. But there are at least a few lawyer panels which focus on the legal profession and lawyering.

Anyway, at my seminar today, American law firms ranging between 5 and 1500 lawyers were represented. The turnout was only fair but the discussion was lively, varied and for the most part pretty good. We discussed everything from firm logos and the color of brochures to the techniques of client interviews and client polling. One of the panelists had a particularly good question for exactly the right person, and he used it to bring into perspective the success law firms were having or not having with "branding"--even though it backfired a little.

He asked a third-year law student in the audience if, based on websites, brochures and materials sent to law student recruits, she could differentiate between the many firms with which she was interviewing. She paused for a long time before answering. Finally, she responded as nicely as she could. "Frankly, based on the materials, all of you seem to be the exactly the same." It was a funny but telling remark. So even assuming that branding can be done for law firms, we all may not doing that good a job.

Posted by JD Hull at December 29, 2005 12:42 AM

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Tracked on January 1, 2006 10:11 AM


You post leads to me ask whether anyone in the room understood branding.

Drucker observed,

"Suppliers and especially manufacturers have market power because they have information about a product or a service that the customer does not and cannot have, and does not need if he can trust the brand. This explains the profitability of brands."

If one means that branding is differentiating one from the competition, obviously mega law firms have no intent to brand. If so, they would hire the Mark Laniers and John O'Quinns of the profession, lawyers with personality who can really try cases.

Posted by: moe.levine at December 31, 2005 09:37 AM

I thought Ren was off the record?

Posted by: I was there, too. at January 1, 2006 07:47 PM

Bob--Good point, but I had thought about that before hand. Anything confidential, personal, for attribution or representing a "work in progress" was omitted. I do think it's unnecesary to report the seminar's name, so recently I took that off the post. Dan

Posted by: Dan Hull at January 2, 2006 02:37 PM

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