This week, nearly 2000 legal marketing professionals gathered together in Atlanta for the 2019 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference. With a total of 58 exhibitors and sponsors and dozens of breakout sessions, there was more than enough programming to keep conference goers engaged and their schedules packed for two full days.

Best Lawyers is proud to be among the field of sponsors this year. If you couldn’t make it to Atlanta, read on for our take on the conference highlights, complete with recaps, key takeaways, and social media coverage.

Day One: Tuesday, April 9

Keynote Presentation: We Can All Be Movement Starters

Presented by: Jennifer Dulksi – Leader, Facebook Groups

Author and leader of Facebook Groups Jennifer Dulski kicked off the conference with her keynote presentation focusing on a straightforward but powerful message: All movements start with small actions from individual people.

Referencing stories from movement starters from different backgrounds and fields, Dulski detailed the common steps that all leaders take:

  • Gather the courage to get started
  • Create a compelling vision
  • Persuade decision-makers
  • Navigate criticism
  • Overcome obstacles  

To be a successful movement starter, one must have a vision. She described the winning combination for a vision as an articulated desired future, a clear purpose, and a compelling story. Dulski’s presentation ended noting that all of us can do this and it’s worth it. We are all movement starters.

"Mobilize people behind your vision - you have to remember to embrace your first supporters. When you embrace those first few people you begin a movement @jdulski #LMA19"

Michelle McCormick (@MichelleMcCorm) April 9, 2019

"Reflecting on an excellent opening #LMA19 keynote from @jdulski earlier in the week. Her presentation further emphasises the role digital content can play in bringing about change both socially and in a business environment. @LMAintl @IGC_US @IGC_UK pic.twitter.com/c8yxM3VD2v"

Jamie Obertelli (@Jamie_Obertelli) April 11, 2019

Diversity From the Client Perspective: Smart Strategies to Winning Business.

Presented by: Lia Dorsey – US Diversity & Inclusion Director, Dentons US LLP; Barbara Miller – Associate General Counsel, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta; Candace Rodriguez – Associate General Counsel, The Home Depot

While there is certainly a lot of talk about diversity these days, speakers Dorsey, Miller, and Rodriguez spelled out the importance of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) programs for firms and how to practically implement them.

One of the greatest challenges is understanding the need for a D&I program and pushing a better attitude about it – and it all starts at the top. By prioritizing diversity in leadership, firms can set a positive and proactive tone for a company-wide culture of inclusivity.

[Did You Know? Best Lawyers actively seeks inclusion when producing our rankings by proactively soliciting diverse nominations from minority bar associations, our Board of Advisors, and other diversity groups. We also monitor patterns in voting behavior when ranking lawyers to catch and curtail biases in voting. To learn more, contact us here.]

As diversity and inclusion intersect with marketing and business development frequently, firms should ensure that their message matches their optics. If talking points and imagery are not lining up, it’s a red flag that your efforts likely amount to little more than lip service.

Furthermore, clients are investing in law firms and they are paying attention to who is representing them. As firms become more dedicated to inclusivity, they should be tracking the number of proposals asking for diversity measures and communicating this data with leadership within the firm.

Data Is King

Speaking of data, Best Lawyers caught up with Ryan King, director of communications at Ogletree Deakins, on the Expo floor to pick his brain about what legal marketers should be focusing on in 2019. The word on everyone’s lips this year? Data.

Watch the full Q&A here:

[Interested in learning how Best Lawyers can support your marketing efforts with industry data? Contact us here]

Day Two: Wednesday, April 10

Social Responsibility and Sustainability Programs – and Why Law Firms Should Care

Presented by: Pamela Cone – VP Global Social Responsibility Officer, Milliman; Gayatri Joshi – Executive Director, Law Firm Sustainability Network; Mona Y. Sheth – Business Development Manager, Project Finance & Public Finance, Environment and Land Use Teams, Nixon Peabody LLP

This breakout session seemed to fly under the radar with comparatively light attendance, but in our opinion, it was one of the most potent, timely presentations of the whole conference.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) issues are no longer just for firms with deep pockets and altruistic leadership. Since the launch of the United Nations Global Compact, CSR programs are becoming requirements of leading global clients at an exponential rate.

[Did You Know? For every new US lawyer that casts their ballot with Best Lawyers, we will donate $1 to a CASA. Voting ends April 16!]

Cone, Sheth, and Joshi predict that CSRs, particularly those related to climate change, will be the next big thing to hit the legal community, and firms should be prepared. Because lawyers have niche policy expertise, the legal industry is in a unique position to lead the charge in guiding their corporate clients.

Their advice to firms? Get aboard now or get left behind.

"Why should your firm care about #Sustainability? - Gayatri Joshi, Executive Director, Law Firm Sustainability Network #lma19 pic.twitter.com/Nd738kZJSq"

Best Lawyers (@BestLawyers) April 10, 2019

[Did You Know? Best Lawyers publishes and promotes quality legal content from top legal talent and firms. Subscribe to our Legal Insights newsletter for weekly recaps.]