“Do more with less” has certainly been the most used phrase within legal departments since the beginning of the economic crisis. But do these top management teams that are behind this objective really know what the legal department does and contributes? Ignorance of the lawyer’s profession and daily activities is devastating to the image of the legal function and its teams. Legal Departments have to launch a true marketing strategy that includes explaining exactly what they do and what they contribute to stakeholders.
Firstly, the “know-how”: legal Departments should be able to formalize their Vision and their Mission for the company (that is, the Vision that they have of their profession, over time, for the company in which they work). Then, the Mission: in reality, this should enable each in-house lawyer to answer the question “What does the legal department do?” in 30 seconds: it’s the notorious “elevator pitch”. American advertisers in the ‘70s taught us that “repetition is reputation”. These “30 seconds” should be repeated time and time again, by and to everyone, so that all company employees can understand, memorize and incorporate it into their own roles in order to know how to interact with the legal role.
Secondly, making oneself known: expertise is so advanced that, by definition, it can only be understood and appreciated by experts. The legal services, thus defined in the “know-how”, should not be written in a vernacular language understood only by lawyers, but rather in vehicular language which can be understood by all. Consequently, the legal department should implement a real marketing plan, based on its stakeholders and their business needs, to then develop, based on the objectives for communication, the right messages – especially using the right means, be this a status report, internal training, intranet, oral presentations in business team meetings, a virtual community, social network platform, etc. The language explaining the “know-how” should be supplemented with figures supporting the legal function, communicating Legal Department key performance indicators which align with those of the company. The marketing of the legal function is now a must for every legal department. In-house lawyers should become marketeers!