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Thank you all (in particular Zach our host) for an extremely interesting discussion. The one negative is that it is now tougher to wait a whole year for next CLOC Institute, but I am looking forward to seeing you there!
I can't do a wrap-up any better than that Laurie! Thanks everyone for participating, and thanks to kCura for sponsoring these conversations!

Well, since it has taken me this long to reply, I felt the need to come up with something more compelling to say about CLOC 2017 than to just describe the polyester suit I wore on Monday night (purchased for the bargain basement price of $59 on Amazon.)   Check out SuitMeister for other options for your next event!

 

One of the things we’ve been keeping our eye on is the maturity models related to the CLOC core competencies, both from a “what does Best in Class look like” across each of the 12 (as that can change year over year – e.g. AI wasn’t even listed as something to consider on last year’s maturity model) as well as how legal ops leaders rate themselves relative to said models.

 

At the CLOC Institute last year, Jeff Franke, Pratik Patel, and I led a session where we surveyed attendees on their maturity relative to each of the 12 competencies.  We just reprised that survey in a session on Tuesday afternoon, so the data coming out of that is literally hot off the press (hence my delayed response.)

 

A couple of interesting early insights below:

 

-          Knowledge Management has once again been rated as the least mature of the 12 core competencies.  This topic was the focused of a dedicated track at CLOC this year as well as a CLOC initiative team led by Christina Jackson at GE, so hopefully we’ll see some improvement in the maturity of KM in the future.  One comment I’ve shared before is that KM is as much a cultural and change management initiative as it is a technology one.  Getting people to embrace a new way of working and thinking is more complex that a shiny new tool.

 

-          The use of Data Analytics is the second least mature competency for the second year in a row.  Again, there were several sessions on this topic at this year’s institute; both for companies that are looking to implement a commercially available data analytics/dashboard solution, as well as those looking to build one of their own.  The benefit of leveraging the volumes of data that have been gathered to inform decision making continues to be a worthy (albeit often elusive) objective.

 

-          The one competency that had a significant increase this year in relative maturity is Outside Counsel/Vendor Management.  This may have been driven by the continued expansion of programs to tighten the relationships with preferred firms, and ongoing focus on defining alternative fee arrangements focused on alignment of incentives and value-based fee arrangements.

 

More details and insights to follow as we dig a little deeper into the data, but hopefully this initial report proves interesting to those on the interwebs that have been at the edge of their seats since that infamous suit surfaced.

I completely agree on the GC involvement! If there could be a session with a GC panel diving into how they are using the legal ops data to drive and influence their business decisions, it could be really interesting and beneficial to the ops professionals to understand how their work is impacting the executive layer.

Each GC has different styles and expectations around data, so it could even be a learning experience for them as well!
Just on a fundamental level, I think a lot of lawyers who are not familiar with the web inadvertently get involved with low quality, unethical content marketing. A number of shady legal marketing firms contact lawyers promising first page Google search results. Then they throw together a website and churn content that is wrong, stolen, and/or written by some English as a second language overseas shop. Consumers can have a hard time discerning what is accurate and what is written by some anon foreign programmer to keyword-stuff a website. They also try to get backlinks on legitimate legal blogs using content spam in order to game Google searches.

Sometimes when I see someone trying to add those backlinks to my site, I will call the lawyer and ask them if they know what is being done in their name. And they have no idea. They are practicing law, and they don't know this stuff. The people at Google continuously fight to stop those "black hat" practices from happening but some will continue to game the system. Ultimately, creating quality content that people want to read is rewarded by search engines over time.

I think many lawyers, law firms and companies in general face Google search situations that are even more basic than content marketing.

Whenever you look up any product or service, the first page hit for your search shouldn't be a directory site. It should be the company's website. That's what consumers want to find. That's what Google search wants to give searchers. And if it isn't, that is something that is easy to fix with a good website with good content. I think this is a bigger issue with doctors than with lawyers, but it astonishes me in 2017 when I try to look up a lawyer and can't find their website easily. It happens all the time.

Finding someone reputable to put a website together just to be found, and then help make it stand out in a crowd can be a challenge. If you get the cookie-cutter product that some legal marketers put together, then it is like the parade problem: If everyone is standing on their tip toes, you have to do that too but you still can't see any better. And the internet is the wild west. Anyone can put up a website and say that they do web stuff.

Just as it can be hard for clients to know how to hire a lawyer if they haven't hired one before, it can be difficult for a lawyer to get help with building a website and marketing that is ethical, provides great return on investment, serves their unique needs and helps connect them to the right clients.
I want to go back to Keith’s comments about “content marketing.” He seemed to be suggesting that he doesn’t care much for content marketing. He said “I’ve never done it (content marketing). It sounds like a bother. I couldn't muster up the time or energy to care about promoting content in that way. . . . [etc]”

And yet, anyone who knows Keith – and I’ve never actually met him, I’ve just engaged with him online and talked to him on the phone once on an unrelated matter – knows that that is exactly what he does. He has a strong Twitter following and engages actively on that platform. He’s clearly thought about marketing (or branding) at least a little because his clever and memorable “Associates Mind” brand follows him from Twitter to his blog to the book he wrote on largely the same topic. I can’t say whether it’s innate or intentional for Keith, but he’s had the discipline to regularly contribute content online and add his voice to online, ongoing discussions in a compelling way. I’m sorry Keith, you’re engaging in content marketing. You may not want to call it that. You may be doing it purely because you like doing it, but you are doing it.

And I think this speaks to the why and the how, not only of content marketing but marketing in general. If you want to grow just about any business you have to engage in marketing. The kind of marketing you do should be an extension of who you are and how you view yourself and your business. If you enjoy writing, like Keith does, or if you enjoy engaging with people and ideas online, content marketing can be really powerful. Sure, there are probably some, to use Keith’s word, “tedious” moments. It might be hard to get an article or two out every month. But if you can figure out a way to do what you like and have that engender to the benefit of your business, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me. However, I totally agree that if that’s not “your jam.” If that’s not how you like to engage in the world. If you’re doing content marketing (or really any kind of marketing) because some legal marketing consultant told you you should, Keith’s exactly right. It’ll get tedious REAL fast.
There's a gold rush going on right now in the legal industry, and being in the middle of it is pretty exciting. There are opportunities for other lawyers to jump in -- the upside is high and the risks are relatively low.
Thanks Zach, any final thoughts?
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