From my Navy days, I remember how long it took to turn or stop a deep draft vessel. It’s no easy task, I can assure you. Momentum (whether in stopping or changing direction) is a powerful force to overcome. So, a law firm’s directional force (no matter what course it is on) is likewise difficult to alter.

I was reminded of this physical reality when I saw the article by Anne Parys’ article “Turning a Battleship: Embracing Marketing at Your Firm” in this month’s Law Practice Today. As she points out, if marketing isn’t already a part of your firm’s culture, it may take “considerable effort and time” to make it so. But, making it so is a must. The alternative isn’t viable.

Anne’s straight forward advice includes:

  • Understanding that a cultural change will take time (and include other issues than just marketing),
  • Don’t try to change all at once (break it up into smaller steps),
  • Start with those already (or almost) on board,
  • Recognizing that there will be missteps, and
  • Don’t give up the ship (remember that it will take time).

It reminds me of the tale about a captain of a large aircraft carrier who spotted a light at sea on a steady bearing and decreasing range (for you landlubbers, that’s collision city). Since his ship was the guerrilla, he advised the other party that he had best change course. After several such warnings, the captain advised again that he was an aircraft carrier on a steady course and unless the other changed course, he/she would suffer the consequences. Whereupon the other advised that he was the keeper of a lighthouse, “so captain, it’s your call.”

Don’t let your law firm find itself on the rocks.