Brenda Plowman on her new role as president of the Legal Marketing Association

The chief marketing officer at Fasken is heading up the global organization in 2022

Brenda Plowman on her new role as president of the Legal Marketing Association
Brenda Plowman is the chief marketing officer at Fasken

The Legal Marketing Association (LMA), which represents thousands of legal marketing and business development professionals around the globe, recently appointed Brenda Plowman as the president of their 2022 board of directors.

Canadian Lawyer spoke with Plowman, who is also the chief marketing officer at Fasken, after the LMA annual conference in Las Vegas in April.

Congratulations on the appointment

Thank you. I am really thrilled about it.

I think it’s very important for the LMA to have someone from outside of the US because it makes the organization more representative of the broader marketplace.

We have just under 4,000 members globally. Now we have a Canada chapter and a European chapter. And one of the things that was exciting at our annual conference was meeting up with people who are coming from places like Peru, Israel and elsewhere.

You were the second Canadian president in LMA history

Yes, the first was Heather Gray-Grant, also from British Columbia, way back when we were a baby organization.

How has the LMA grown internationally?

We have eight regions, including our six regional US groups. We have members from several countries around the world and a growing interest worldwide.

What are your priorities?

I’m passionate about our profession, and I’m passionate about the impact we have on our firms.

Whether it’s business development, sales, marketing, or digital, it’s the whole gamut. I’m looking at how I can help elevate our profession, amplify the difference we make and push us forward.

How will legal marketing grow over the next several years?

We have been operating in our firms for a long time, but our rules are changing. Legal marketing is now getting the opportunity to be a real discipline.

We work together to bring products to market, define competitive advantages, help people with sales pipelines, refine our offerings, and adapt to what clients need.

Marketing operations is a huge area regardless of where you are. That relates to people and processes, driving efficiency and effectiveness and ensuring we have key performance indicators.

We’ll see more leadership development in specialized areas where we’re encouraging people to bring a different element.

Our digital online presence has grown. Sales will be a huge piece; we are starting to work on that pipeline. How are we driving things from an industry perspective? It all goes back to how we’re meeting the client’s needs.

We’ve seen this happen with some of the big four accounting firms. We must make a case for the value we can provide.

Can you tell me more about working with firms on being industry-focused?

It’s developing in each firm a little bit differently. In Canada, and I’m not just talking about my firm, we are focussing more on industry.

At my firm Fasken, though, one of our key focus areas is hydrogen. And we were early out of the gate on that. Some of our lawyers were very involved with the industry association in that area. They helped bring the pieces along before hydrogen became the agenda of the day. They saw the future.

We are not the only ones with those kinds of examples.

What else is the LMA planning to help support the growth of legal marketing?

We are very focused on our governance. One of our goals is to get to 4,000 members. We have an incredibly professional staff and an international board. Our regions have local groups with programming relevant to them.

I’m very focused on the board level and proper governance. We want to make sure our membership is happy because we’re only as strong as a member in Saskatoon, for example.

We must make sure that we’re retaining our members and making them feel like we’re inclusive. That means we’re serving everyone from the coordinator to the CMO, from a small firm to a large firm. In the US, for example, we are looking to attract more plaintiff firms.

What are the other strategic goals of the LMA after governance?

After governance, advocacy is the next strategic goal. And this is looking at what public policy initiatives we can support to advance and amplify what we do for our firms and help us be that authority of legal marketing.

For example, we’re starting to do a state tracker. Eventually, we could have this in Canada, but we’re starting in the US. Everywhere has different advertising rules. So can we build a tool that allows our members to go in and figure out what those rules are and make sure that they’re leaning into that.

We also want to offer some letters of support, where we can take a position, for example, around wellness. Part of that will be doing a survey where we talk to others in the industry, not necessarily our members, to get a sense of how we are doing and how we are perceived.

Our third strategic goal is financial, so establishing ourselves with several members, staff, and volunteers for the long term. We need to have a solid financial position. COVID delayed that goal, but we’re putting that back in place, and we’re working on our long-term strategic plan, and then we’ll align our finances.

The fourth goal is around our education. As an association, we do a lot of education. Our annual conference is our most significant example of that, but we do a multitude of webinars, programs for which we have 10 special interest groups.

Our fifth goal is the working on the relationships with our regions. We’re working on streamlining our operational practices, ensuring they have an administrator in some cases, and everything is aligned there.

What other initiatives are you working on at Fasken? 

Our M&A practice has been doing a phenomenal job. In the first quarter of 2022, we are number one on the league tables. We’ve been number one by the number of deals. So, it’s taking practices like that where our lawyers are doing exceptionally, and other areas like litigation, cybersecurity or privacy, for example, and making sure the message is getting out about those incredible practices.

All of that ties into the brand; how do we position ourselves? And how do we make sure we always differentiate? So that’s a big piece.

Also, how do our systems operate? We are a service organization within an organization. So, part of what I focus on is how we are making sure we are supporting our lawyers, providing them what they need and being responsive.

Another big piece is our digital strategy, from social to web to all those pieces.

No day is ever the same. I’m in my 16th year at Fasken. I’m as excited today as I was when I started. Fasken keeps growing. It’s a great firm with amazing people. I’m fortunate to have an outstanding team that works with me.

*Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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