Any marketer who’s found themselves working in a law firm will know they can be confusing and often downright difficult places to work – even as the professionals therein desperately need their help to get new work in the door by describing their services, articulating their value and points of difference, and simply being noticed.

Australian marketers Genevieve Burnett and Sally King have done all marketers a favour by explaining how law firms work, where marketers fit in and how they can get things done. The authors are straight shooters and this little 88-page book is wonderfully direct. For instance, here is their description of how firm’s are set up: “A law firm partnership is unlike any other corporate structure. We believe the best way to grasp it is to think back to the medieval period, because most law firm partnerships have characteristics that could best be described as feudal.”

Burnett and King also give a warts and all account of what lawyers and partners go through – from bullying to depression and mid-life crises – as a way of giving marketers a better understanding of the people and businesses they’re trying to help. They also highlight the many strengths that lawyers have and describe how savvy marketers can leverage those.

Here at Editor Group we regularly work with leading law firms so we particularly liked the sections titled ‘Lawyers think they are wordsmiths’.

“Due to their fluency in legalese, most lawyers are convinced that they are highly skilled wordsmiths,” Burnett and King write. “Sadly, the ability to prepare an affidavit or draft a contract using legalese doesn’t necessarily mean lawyers are good at using words to communicate a clear and coherent marketing message.”

We’ve certainly found that to be true at times. But – like Burnett and King – we also have a lot of respect for their raw intellectual firepower, so I for one enjoyed the pragmatic and well-rounded view of lawyers offered by the Marketer’s Guide to Law Firms (Vivid Publishing, $22).

The book isn’t a bible that provides every tip and trick on marketing in professional services. But it is a fun, quick read that provides a great insight into the unique dynamics of law firms. This could be invaluable to younger professionals who’ve got past the impressive foyer of a firm and have begun wondering what the hell is really going on!

By Grant Butler

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