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Make Sure Everyone is on the Same Team


“You may think you’re one in a million, but you’re really just one of 11.”

Many law firms function as a collection of sole practitioners who, at best, are members of a referring collective. Most firms that do well employ a team concept or mentality with at least many of the lawyers working together for the betterment of the firm. (As the saying goes, “a rising tide raises all ships.”) But what few firms do truly well – regardless of size – is to perceive and treat everyone in the firm as members of the team. This is a missed opportunity, especially where marketing is concerned. With this week's return of Ted Lasso, we can't imagine a better topic.


First, we must be continually reminded that marketing is more than advertising. It includes making the sale (landing the client), client relations, and all the other activities that go along with marketing.

While having lawyers engaged in marketing efforts is critical, it isn’t any more important than having all team members engaged in the firm’s marketing efforts. Who are a firm’s team members? Everyone. Runners, receptionists, legal assistants, paralegals, billing clerks, administrators, associates, of counsel lawyers, retired partners, and contract lawyers -- everyone. Listen to their ideas. Make them invested in the firm’s success. But remember another Ted Lasso-ism: "If the internet has taught us anything, it's that sometimes it's easier to speak our minds anonymously."


Think of some successful large corporations (or those who have periods of stellar performance in their history). Many of them have (or had) soaring esprit de corps.

Not only is (or was) morale high, but everyone was treated as a team member. Everyone was rowing in the same direction. Everyone knew the corporate mission and its goals, and they felt a part of its success. Many of us have experienced these corporate cultures firsthand. Disney. Southwest Airlines (part of what is arguably plaguing Southwest is that its technology has frustrated and disappointed its team members). Have you experienced others? Maybe a favorite local coffee shop? It doesn’t matter the size of the enterprise, it’s the attitude, policies, and leadership. It must start at the top. And it is a challenge.


Law firms’ histories and legacies contribute to the challenges in incorporating this type of culture, but it isn’t impossible.

We zealously hold onto the past and the way things have always been done. It takes a concerted and open effort to change. Though law firm management has historically kept their cards very close to their vests, we need to share with everyone on the team what is going on and what we want to accomplish. Everyone can contribute to the firm’s success. And everyone can be an impediment.


Practically, how is this new focus, this new way of approaching the practice of law implemented and managed?

We can’t just share vague and illusory goals. We must actively train and encourage our staff, give gentle corrections where needed, and keep everyone focused on what is important: client satisfaction, marketing goals, and treating everyone as a potential client. It starts with hiring. While technical skills and experience are important, we must hire team players. And when we identify an employee who isn’t a team member, corrective action must be taken. Law firms are terrible at this. There will be bumps in the road. People don’t like change. But we must keep the end goal in mind and remember its importance.


Culture starts at the top. It takes leadership. It takes planning. It takes intentionality. It takes accountability. It takes attention to the business of the firm, which naturally includes marketing goals. It may take some outside help. That’s what we’re here for. After all, Ted Lasso is a fictional character.

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