EPISODE 65 — Legal Thought Leaders: LIVE from the EVOLVE Summit
In this special episode, brought to you LIVE from the EVOLVE Summit, you’ll hear from a diverse panel of experts who have climbed to the top of their industries. These game changers are here to share their advice on how to succeed at business, branding, and improving the legal world.
We’re joined by:
- Judy Smith, crisis management expert and professional fixer who’s counseled presidents, global leaders, and Fortune 50 CEOs through crises for over 25 years. You may know her as the inspiration for the wildly hit TV show Scandal.
- Sara Williams, a rising star in the legal world who mentors young trial lawyers, uplifting women of color and working to make the legal world more equitable.
- Harlan Schillinger, the grandfather of legal advertising. Harlan helped shape the world of legal marketing and has been a leading voice in it for over 40 years.
- Joe Fried, America’s preeminent trucking attorney. He spends much of his time educating lawyers, judges, and politicians about trucking safety issues, having conducted over 500 presentations over the past decade.
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3:48 – Plan your messaging in advance. [Judy Smith] “When we speak, we have to be careful about what we say and how we say it. We’re in a society where everybody has a whole host of opinions, and things can be sliced and diced and interpreted in so many different ways. Before I speak, I always make sure that I’m very clear about my messaging.”
4:41 – Be true to yourself. [Sara Williams] “People think about branding using a certain voice, but for me, it’s more about being true to who you are and not necessarily following the trends. The choice is to either do what everyone else is doing or do what’s true to yourself. I want to encourage lawyers to be themselves and feel the confidence to walk through the world as themselves.”
7:34 – Stand out by being authentic. [Harlan Schillinger] “The majority of lawyers who get into the advertising game simply follow the next guy and take a sheep approach. They think if any of their competitors can do it, then they can just say the same thing. Then everything just sounds the same and there’s no differentiation. The most important thing is to just be yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin.”
8:18 – Credibility is everything. [Harlan Schillinger] “Talk to the public the way you talk to a jury. You can’t fool a jury. You have to be authentic and factual while staying grounded and likable. Most people don’t intentionally aim to be authentic; they just try to yell louder than the next guy because that person is already yelling loudly. Your best option is being yourself and finding your most unique values. It’ll help you be profitable, but you also have an ethical consideration to be exactly who you are and to represent your client in the most ethical manner.”
9:51- Become the subject matter expert. [Joe Fried] “I learned as a very young lawyer that it made the most sense to become the subject matter expert in whatever I was going to do. So I chose trucking, and it was absolutely a challenge to stay committed to and believe in that. If what you pick is something you only choose because it’s going to make you some money, then it’s going to backfire on you. Pick something that’s meaningful to you and that you want to spend your life fighting for, and everything else will take care of itself. Just be the best you can be. Become the subject matter expert. Write about it and teach others about it. I don’t keep anything to myself. We need to build armies to do what we do, which also means empowering women and minorities in this field. If we do that, we will succeed. And then you just gotta work every freaking day.”
18:05 – Cancel culture cancels meaningful progress. [Judy Smith] “Everybody has an opinion about things, but the kind of culture that is going on right now is not helpful for change or for learning — and it’s certainly not helpful for any real conversation. As you are thinking about how to build your own brand in your practice, there are some things that you really want to think about. What’s the strategy? What’s the plan? Anytime I go on TV and do an interview, I think ahead of time about the story that I’m going to tell and identify three or four main points. I would encourage everybody to be very deliberate about how you go about building your own brand and make sure that you have a strategy when you’re doing media and marketing as well.”
20:21 – Don’t let a platform go to waste. [Sara Williams] “When you have a platform, you have a responsibility to use it. We are not going to effect change if we’re worried about our reputation when we speak out. As women and as people of color, we are out here doing great work, but we don’t often have the visibility. What is important is ensuring that our clients are best served by the best people — and that is a diverse group of folks. It’s incredibly important that we are all sharing ideas with each other in a broad spectrum.”
24:21 – Your brand is what people think of you. [Harlan Schillinger] “Brand is what people think of you when you’re out of the room. You have to be exactly who you are. People want to trust you; you can’t con somebody into trusting you. It won’t last very long. You can’t con a jury into believing you if you don’t have the facts straight or any credibility. You get what you ask for.”