There’s a bit more to all of this and I didn’t want to overdo my comment, but we were really struggling with a lot of this purging, and, as we pulled things off the truck, Susan was so complimentary about my mother’s taste and how well received her collection would be. It was such a relief and an encouragement.
And then we found out that Susan shares the same name … as my mother Susie Sexton. And there’s more: Goodwill Susan‘s mother was a professor at Ball State University in the speech department, and was one of my mother’s professors when she was there. My mother studied speech at Ball State. My mother wrote a couple of books, speaking at length about how much she loved her years there.
It all felt like fate, to be honest. And did our hearts a world of good!
Wonderful chat earlier this week with Gillian Ward, Matthew Fuller, and Simon P Marshall for Pinnacle about firm culture, global presence, and keeping your team engaged and energized during these challenging times. It is a fun and informative watch!
Picture it: 1992. Wabash College Lambda Chi Alpha house. Young Roy was walking through the “tube room” (where our ONE tv was) on the way to do my laundry. My frat brothers were going on in that performative way only young hormonal straight guys can for each other about how “hot” they were finding the “woman” performing on MTV. I giggled to myself when I realized the video they were watching was “Supermodel” by RuPaul.
After I put in my wash, I walked back to find them all a bit crestfallen, as the resident veejay had then interviewed MamaRu and they realized they’d been duped. To their credit, they weren’t spouting off any homophobic foolishness to cover for any embarrassment they may have been feeling. We were a really kind and inclusive house. Always.
All of that said, if you had told me then that I would be holding in my hot little hands today Fisher-Price LittlePeople depicting this fabulous superstar, I would’ve never believed you. But here we are. I’m sure there are some hyperventilating pundits out there sputtering that these charming toys are somehow harming our youth more than guns and devious politicians do. C’est la vie. All I know is that I’m delighted that we live in a forward-moving world where these exist … and that I own them. At age 49. 😅🌈✨
Clark Hill assembled a list of “meaningful media” to honor Pride month, with contributions and (most importantly) heartfelt stories from all across our great firm. Thank you to my colleagues Hannah Reisdorff who organized the list’s development and Ray Koenig and Tobias Smith who are leading our overall Pride recognition activities. Here is my contribution to the list …
For me, there were two albums that helped me as a young high school man living in a small town in Indiana still trying to figure out what his sexuality might mean. Might be surprising to hear but in the late 80s there wasn’t a lot of good guidance for people like me. Lol. But I found a voice in two records that weren’t overtly LGBTQ but were recorded by artists who have always been allies to our community.
In 1989, I wandered into our mall’s Musicland and bought a cassette of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. It was all the money I had in my pocket, and that album with its day-glo, percolating inclusivity gave me a summer soundtrack that made me feel like the world could be a better place.
The following summer, I was chosen by the US Senate as a youth ambassador to Japan. A bit homesick, I bought another cassette, this time of Madonna’s I’m Breathless, a pastiche of songs from Dick Tracy and songs inspired by the film. Problematic as the song “Vogue” has become as we are increasingly sensitized to cultural appropriation, nonetheless its thundering pulse and message of liberation – as well as the fizzy camp with which the queen of pop delivered the album’s other show tunes – spoke to my soul and gave me a sense of self.
I still listen to both of these albums often, now streaming, and they transport me to a time of discovery and give me a sense of great gratitude that these artists were willing to push the envelope of popular entertainment and acceptance.
Thank you, Pinnacle, Charlotte Takács, Simon P Marshall, and team for including me not only in your helpful report but also in this essential conversation. Honored to join Gillian Ward and Matthew Fuller for this discussion. Pinnacle’s 2022 Pitch Management report highlighted significant experiences of top CMOs, who deal with cross border politics, cultural differences, language barriers and overseas understanding in not only the pitching process but internally team to team. To keep firms running smoothly, it’s a balancing act of technology, understanding and communication, which we will explore on this webinar.
Event description: “In the global competitive market law firms operate in, we’re bringing together a panel of global marketing and BD leaders from across the AmLaw 200 to discuss how firms around the world function with cross border teams, what practices they share, what’s different and how they cater and adapt their differences if pitching across seas.
“We will get to the heart of the challenges and the opportunities faced internationally, drawing on the personal experiences of each leader, delving into elements such as how they drive efficiency, what technology they use to communicate across regions, and how they finetune each pitch to the client, plus much more.”
Truly thrilled with this coverage from Law360 of our Clark Hill Law marketing and business development transformation. Every member of our incredible team and their efforts are represented in this overview. So proud to work with these talented souls who all lead with data, ingenuity, strategy, grit, inclusion, collaboration, and heart. And we’ve had a lot of fun along the way!
We discuss a lot in legal marketing circles the need to approach this work with intentionality as other industries do (no more “random acts of marketing”!) and the desire to advocate for ourselves as a substantive profession. For me, I couldn’t be prouder of how my colleagues’ efforts as outlined here align with that direction.
How Clark Hill Makes Use Of Technology To Market Itself
By Aebra Coe
Law360 (May 19, 2022, 3:59 PM EDT) — Asana, SharePoint, Wufoo, Sprout Social, Google Docs, SQL database and PowerBI are all fairly typical technologies for law firms to use in their marketing and business development efforts, but Detroit-based Clark Hill has leveraged those ordinary technologies for some interesting uses, earning it a recent international award.
Susan Ahern, Clark Hill PLC’s chief marketing and business development officer, is the quarterback behind much of the tech-heavy marketing tactics that earned the firm Best Marketing Initiative honors at the Managing Partners’ Forum Awards for Management Excellence in 2020.
Ahern recently spoke to Law360 Pulse, offering a look behind the scenes at the firm’s marketing and business development technology, and the platform around which the technology spins. The system has been up and running for around four years now.
Using off-the-shelf technologies like Power BI and SharePoint for data analytics and team collaboration, Ahern and her team have been able to build an online platform that allows them to track and make use of data in their decision-making around business development.
The data is input through a combination of sources. Digital collection forms are used to gather data directly from attorneys, and other data flows in from the marketing and business development team. Additionally, some streams of data, like digital reach and engagement, are automated through the firm’s other platforms.
“We have been able to implement online data collection processes for different types of data throughout the firm,” Ahern said. “Our systems then organize and store the information into different datasets, [and] our dashboards pivot on these datasets.”
Examples of the types of reports the dashboards can produce include detailed information on client feedback and check-ins, client pitches, event sponsorships and their success, attendance information on events and webinars, and data on social media marketing campaigns.
The dashboards, which are accessible through an online portal, visually illustrate through charts the activities the team engages in and the results of those activities on a wide range of the firm’s marketing and business development operations, according to Ahern. They run and update in real time.
“We have the flexibility to adjust the dashboards to communicate what is most useful,” she said. “Each dashboard is dynamic and can be filtered in multiple different ways by the user. We have been able to identify trend lines year-on-year through dashboards we’ve had up and running over a number of years.”
When it comes to event sponsorships, for example, individual partners and the business development team can see who has requested sponsorships, whether they were granted, and where that money went in terms of industry, client or geography. There’s also data on how much revenue was generated by the attorney making the request.
Since the firm implemented tracking around sponsorships, the number of requests for them has actually declined, Ahern said.
“Having that information has helped hold everyone accountable for what they requested,” she said.
When it comes to pitching clients, attorneys and business development professionals can search and sort data by the rates pitched, client, industry of the client, rate of success by office or business unit, and reasons the pitch was unsuccessful. The firm gathers somewhere between 35 and 40 pieces of information on any given pitch, Ahern said.
According to Ahern, she is often approached by legal technology providers trying to sell her platforms and services related to business development and marketing, but when she asks how they would capture, collate, organize and leverage the data the firm is currently using, the response tends to be underwhelming.
“The more I see of these technologies, the more I realize that they are limited. They are different versions of the same thing,” she said.
Earlier this year, the firm hired a data coordinator Todd Krigner.
Ahern says she remains happy with the system the firm has created in-house, which allows her to translate data, and at times non-numerical data, into something measurable that can help direct the firm’s actions and strategy.
“What we did was look at information that could be useful in influencing the firm’s direction and strategy,” she said. “Most technology in law firms is not being used to its full potential. There are so many other creative ways it can be used to really bring the firm forward.”
I always enjoy the arrival of Wabash Magazine in our mailbox. Egomaniacally, even more so when I’m mentioned in it. Let alone TWICE (!) in this Spring ‘22 issue.
First, for my Legal Marketing Association – LMA International work.
Second, for … buying a record player in pandemic. I might have misunderstood the assignment from Editor Kim Carter Johnson since everyone else wrote about Hadron Colliers, Bosendorfers, The Beatles, Van Gogh, and Pearl Jam.
Truth be told, I spent more money than I’d care to admit for (almost) front row tix for Madonna’s Rebel Heart 2015 tour stop in Detroit (worth the bucks for having met divine Aussie Glenn Nolan and his man). And then again for a complete collection of vintage Strawberry Shortcake dolls (inspired by my elementary school boo Hope Ross Dressler).
Now that I type these past two sentences, maybe it’s good I stuck with the Victrola. 😅✨
EXCERPT: “Human interest is key to understanding the buyer, yet as Roy Sexton of Clark Hill Law believes, the journey is a two-way process. Buyers are increasingly interested in the firm’s culture and each person’s passion for individual causes. Putting himself in the client’s shoes, Sexton expands on this sentiment, ‘I see what your pitch materials look like, but what kind of people are you and do you care about the environment and your community, diversity and equity? They want to know that you’re decent human beings, on top of the fact that you’re a good lawyer. You should provide an authentic performance and tell people that you’re doing things that show your passions.’”
Charlotte writes, “Leading U.S. law firms are looking at pitching in an increasingly wider context and use automation and analytics to free up time to understand the buyer journey and bring more personality to pitches. Months of work is paying off today as we release Pinnacle’s review of ‘How Winners Win’ in North American law firms. It’s different. It’s inspiring. It’s insightful. It’s a glimpse into what firms, who are ahead of the curve do. Reading it, will be 20 minutes well (very well) spent.
“As always, getting ahead is only possible with a community wanting to do bigger and better – with people who will lead from the front, empower others through the benefit of knowledge and see the value of sharing. … Read, share, pass on to a colleague with as much love as I do and if you can spare 15 minutes to let me know what you thought about it, please drop me an email on email@example.com!”
Thank you, Paula Tsurutani and Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), for including my humble thoughts in this important piece on the essential need for solid internal #communications. Honored to be here alongside luminaries and friends like Jaffe’s Terry Isner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP’s Sean Gibson, Builden Partners’ Jocelyn Brumbaugh, Blank Rome LLP’s Frank Spadafino.
EXCERPT: “It was always important for us to facilitate and step back so our leaders’ and colleagues’ voices could be heard — both to inform and to unify,” says Roy E. Sexton, Director of Marketing at Clark Hill Law. “Our chief executive officer John Hensien started a monthly newsletter; our chief human resources officer Kathleen Sullivan worked with her team and the marketing team to increase storytelling about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) concerns; and our chief operating officer Phil Ross started a weekly update to provide guidance on the evolving standards and mandates to keep everyone engaged and informed.”
Hearing from top management helped drive more cohesion, revealed a greater sense of humanity and led to increased institutional awareness and pride about the firm’s people and work.
As more employees work remotely or reduce their face time in offices, using a strategic mix of internal communications tools can help raise morale, connect people and projects, and launch efforts that can elevate social impact initiatives or new business opportunities. …
Sexton agrees. “Collaborating with marketing, leveraging great internal stories, whether on a firm intranet or on social media, can create mutual lift.” …
Increasingly, the line between internal and external communication has blurred, especially with the rise of social media and podcasting. Clark Hill saw an explosive growth in podcasts, which mutually advanced employee engagement and business development.
“Everything we are pushing out externally also benefits the internal,” says Sexton. “We released 80 podcast episodes across an array of subjects, and our hosts used these opportunities to engage with Clark Hill colleagues, clients and prospects. When clients see a rich culture, they want to work with us. And talent wants to come work here.”