Often law firms suffer from a malady that occurs whenever a new idea is suggested. That is particularly true when it comes to legal marketing. The problem is with what I call the “copycat syndrome,” and displays itself in the phrase “have other firms done that?” when a marketing concept is first run up the flag pole. It is understandable, because marketing is still unfamiliar territory for many lawyers. However, the reluctance to try something new, unless peers in other firms have already done it, only makes you a follower of the pack rather than leading it.

Leaders are winners, and by definition are not followers.

An article by Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith, Esq. fame offers an interesting perspective on the copycat syndrome in an article on his blog entitled “‘What Are Other Firms Doing?’ Wrong!”. Although his focus is somewhat different than mine, the resulting point is the same. Lawyers are “creatures of precedent” and “trained to be risk-averse” as Bruce reminds us, but that still doesn’t justify have-other-firms-done-that behavior in the internal service areas of HR, IT and finance departments according to Bruce. I would quickly add marketing as well.

If yours is a copycat strategy, as Bruce advises in his final comments, “your strategy, like it or not, is one of guaranteed mediocrity.” So, why not lead instead?