Robyn:

Hi, and welcome everybody. Thanks for joining us for LISI’s News+Views+To-Do’s where we talk to legal marketers and legal industry professionals about what’s going on in their world, what they see happening in the industry, and their advice for us and for our audience. Today, I’m thrilled to have with me, Kristyn Brophy, who has just joined the LISI team as our new Director of Client Strategy. Thanks so much for coming on Kristyn, and welcome to the team.

Kristyn:

Thank you for having me. I’m so excited. I’m very, very excited for this adventure.

Robyn:

We are so excited to have you. It’s like a dream come true. Dream team.

Kristyn:

Exactly.

Robyn:

So, let’s just dive right in. I’m interested to hear sort of, obviously, big news joining the LISI team, headline news, but what other news or sort of exciting information would you like to share with our audience?

Kristyn:

Some other exciting information is obviously I’m very excited to have joined LISI and to be starting this new career adventure and have exposure to all sorts of different law firms and practice areas. I’ve worked in big law, Am Law 100 firms, an Am Law 200 firm, and then a very small firm that was Boston only, more regional. And now I’m going to have exposure to all sorts of different practice areas and attorneys, so I’m very excited for that. And my other exciting development. I have found huge value in Clubhouse and I am going to tote Clubhouse to anyone that asks me. I have hosted a few rooms and I think that legal marketers and attorneys and just professionals, in general, should really explore Clubhouse. I think you said it best actually in one of your LinkedIn posts when you said it is 24/7 front seat access to the biggest conference in the world where you can sit and have access to any sort of information, listen to all of these professionals and connect with as many people as possible. I do think Clubhouse is also a really great content aggregator. It also can help with lead generation. So if you’re getting out there and promoting your personal brand, or maybe even your professional brand, your firm, your company, you can tie it back to your Twitter and your Instagram and then really help bring in business from it. And actually, an attorney at my former firm Conn Kavanaugh, brought in business from Clubhouse because she was so consistent with hosting rooms and sharing value, and connecting with like-minded professionals. So that is some exciting news in the industry. It’s definitely, it’s Clubhouse. Clubhouse is a fairly new app, they just celebrated their one-year anniversary in March of 2021, so it is really gaining a lot of traction now. For those who are not familiar with Clubhouse, it is an iPhone-only app, invitation-only app, and it’s still in the beta phase. So it’s still a little exclusive and it’s not grown a ton of popularity yet, but I think if you’re an early adopter now is the time to adopt it and really explore it and grow your network on it. It is audio only, it’s almost like podcasting, but Reddit style. So you really have that authentic connection with anyone who’s in a room, is what they call them, Clubhouse rooms. You really get that authentic connection with people and nothing’s rehearsed, nothing’s recorded, there are no visuals, there’s no chatting on it. There’s no instant messaging. It is purely audio. So it’s like you’re having a conversation and it’s almost like talk therapy for some people. So, I highly recommend Clubhouse.

Robyn:

You’ve definitely converted me to Clubhouse. I think I posted this on LinkedIn too. I am not an early adopter to anything, but Clubhouse is definitely exciting to me for that learning, and that just really the educational component. I get the alerts about people talking about women supporting women or entrepreneurs in business, or all sorts of things. And I turned it on while I’m grocery shopping or I turn it on while I’m cooking dinner. It just comes up at the perfect time for me to listen in on topics that I wouldn’t really have exposure to those speakers. So you’ve converted me. I’m happy to be an early adopter on Clubhouse.

Kristyn:

I love to hear that.

Robyn:

Kind of, that’s an interesting segue into what do you see changing in the legal industry and what do you think the impact is gonna be?

Kristyn:

I think that law firms and lawyers really started to see the value of digital marketing as a result of the pandemic. I think that they knew they needed marketing and emails and blogs, but I don’t know that they really knew why. Obviously, legal marketers knew why and marketing-minded and business development-minded professionals knew the value of digital marketing and thought leadership and outreach and things like LinkedIn and social media, but I don’t think it really sunk in until the pandemic hit. And all of a sudden, I hate to continue to use this word, but all of a sudden every single law firm had to pivot their strategy to completely online, completely digital and I do think that that will continue. I think that’s a change that’s going to just keep on going and keep improving. I think that law firms are really starting to audit their digital marketing strategies and improve them for the better because of the pandemic. All of a sudden they weren’t having these in-person events where they can network with one another and share value with their contacts and colleagues and clients. And I think that finding ways to connect online through LinkedIn or through blog posts or through even other social media like Clubhouse or a Twitter or even Instagram, I think that is one thing that has changed for the better and it will just continue to change. Law firms started having these COVID-19 resource centers on all of their websites where everything would be COVID centric and then I think that strategy with getting everything out right away started to build up and be more like a snowball effect. And now that it’s evened out, a lot of firms are still keeping up with that thought leadership strategy and it’s really great. And as marketers, we love it. We love to see it.

Robyn:

Well, and it’s so interesting. I was talking about this topic, I think this is what a lot of us legal marketers are talking about right now. And I was talking about this with a friend not too long ago. I think we often always did something because that’s the way it was always done and very rarely had the opportunity to come at it from a different angle because, how do you stop a rolling stone essentially? And we had no option, but to come at things from a different angle about a year ago. And there are so many exciting opportunities born out of that. So it’s not legal marketing, but I think it’s a perfect example of this. I am planning an impromptu trip to Disney World because why not.

Kristyn:

Best place on earth.

Robyn:

Happiest place on earth. And interestingly, so I don’t know if you are, or our viewers are familiar, I think the dining reservations in Disney World had to be made historically six months in advance. So you had to know six months before your trip where you wanted to eat on Tuesday and Wednesday, etc. And they’ve completely changed that now, and now it’s like 30 to 60 days in advance of your trip. So I’ve got a long time before I have to actually figure this out. And when I was talking with my vacation planner, she said Disney World had long been looking for a way to change that, but they couldn’t figure out how to stop it without some sort of external force allowing them to break and start fresh. And that’s what COVID has been for legal and for Disney World and all sorts of places. It was that break with how things always were and gave us an opportunity to start fresh. And I do think there are going to be, to your point, exactly, there are going to be opportunities coming out of this to sustain new and better ways to do things moving forward, take advantage of what we’ve learned and improve moving forward. Don’t you think?

Kristyn:

Oh, absolutely, absolutely. So, kind of unrelated, related to your Disney World, but unrelated to legal marketing, I’ve noticed a big improvement, so I’m a big skier, a big improvement in the lift lines at ski resorts because they had to force lift lines to be a certain way to allow for social distancing. And I think that at the very large ski resorts in New England, that the lift lines were running a little bit longer, not longer, a little bit shorter and they look longer, but they’re faster, faster wait times, because they have so much extra staff like directing traffic and there’s a set merge pattern now, and everyone is in these alleyways that are six feet apart from each other. So that’s a change for the better, I think.

Robyn:

Well, so, and then your comment, so now we’re just gonna keep on snowballing with this. Your comment just made me think of marketing automation or email campaigns. Let’s just take that, when you have to get, especially at a large firm you sort of have to get in line to have your email go out. And if everybody’s thinking more holistically, more across the board, how do we do this in a strategic way that works for everybody as opposed to all clamoring to be, you know, I have to get my email alert out, I have to get this out. If we’re all working together ’cause we kind of have to, it’s gonna get better. The process is gonna get better and the result is gonna get better. So I think all the things that we’re saying are all tying in together, everything came to a halt and we’re all figuring out how to move forward, cohesively and efficiently together. And I think that’s a good thing. It’s a silver lining.

Kristyn:

Yep, absolutely.

Robyn:

So on the flip side of this though, what do you think should be changing in the legal industry, but is probably gonna take longer than we’d like?

Kristyn:

I think culture. And a lot of people are surprised when I’ve said this. So I’ve been saying this for a few months now that culture is one of those things that a lot of law firms took pride in pre-pandemic and then obviously the big culture shock of everyone being home and segregated and not gathering, that was a big hit to culture. And then coming back into the office and coming back together, I think culture is gonna be tough to adjust to. Law firms in general are not very nimble, and a lot of law firms and attorneys are adverse to change. No, lawyers adverse to change? Apologies to any lawyers listening to this. But I think a lot of law firms toted that they have wonderful culture because they had a gathering space, right. They had an office with water cooler conversations and they had a place to gather for lunches, food was involved. They’d sometimes have events with maybe a bar like a happy hour. Or I know, my firm, that I just left had an annual summer outing where we would all do something fun, attorneys and staff together in the summer. But that’s not really culture. And I think that law firms do have a lot of work and a long way to go to kind of get back to that cohesive sense of family, sense of culture that they towed pre-pandemic. And during the pandemic, especially, speaking with my colleagues, there was always that divide of staff and attorneys or partners and associates. And I think that divide got even greater during the pandemic. Some things were great. We would have virtual happy hours and everyone would get together on those. But the staff may have felt awkward speaking to a partner, associates may have felt awkward speaking to partners, and it still felt like there was this divide. And I think that divide started to get greater and greater and greater, and then people started to feel isolated. So I think coming back from the pandemic as everyone is going back into an office and everyone is starting to get back together, for lack of a better term, I think the culture is what needs to change. I think this work from home culture, working remotely was frowned upon in a lot of firms but now we’ve proven that we can do it. We can pick up and we can work from home and we can be just as productive if not more, when we are at home, because we don’t have that commute time. And I’m in Boston, the public transit is awful. I live four and a half miles from my former office in downtown Boston and it would take me over an hour and a half to get to work on public transit because I would have to wait. Boston public transportation needs need some work as everyone is returning to office. And I think, kind of having that more flexible policy or those flexible procedures will help a lot with culture. And also recognizing that the pandemic took a toll on everyone’s mental health. And again, mental health problems are not something that are widely spoken about or widely accepted in the legal industry. And that’s across the board, that’s staff, attorneys, paralegals, everyone. I think that there’s that stigma there still. And I am very vocal about someone who has battled with mental health issues in the past. And I’m comfortable in being vocal about that, and I am happy to share my story and happy to be an ear to anyone who needs someone to listen to them on their mental health issues. But I think that’s another part of law firm culture that needs to be improved but it might not be changing fast enough.

Robyn:

Well, I was not expecting that answer, I’m not gonna lie, but then I think you are so right, and that is gonna take way longer than it should because changing that culture. And it’s changing the culture but it’s also changing the perception of what the culture is because I can think of some examples of firms that think that they have a great culture. To your point, they’ve got the Friday happy hour, they’ve got the bar cart, they’ve got the whatever, friendly competition, but is that a perk or is that really an indication of how people, their sentiment of the firm and how people work together? I mean, I often find in these conversations I could talk for three hours about something one of my guests says, and this is one of those things. I really think you hit the nail on the head there. And the other thing too, just about commuting, that is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. So I grew up outside of DC and commuting two hours was normal. I mean, DC traffic is atrocious, but the commute from the far suburbs of two, two, and a half, three hours was normal. And so now I think about all these people who lived out on beyond where I grew up and had that two-hour commute and now have four hours of their day back, what is their life like? And when I think how that relates to culture too, is the culture of wherever you are, let’s say it’s a law firm, that you have to figure out how to fill those two hours with work or do you get to reclaim that and have something that supports better mental health and work-life balance and all of those things? That is going to be interesting to see coming out of this. I’m sitting here going, gosh, there’s so much to think about in what you just said.

Kristyn:

I mean, it’s one of those things. Pre-COVID all the firms toted their culture because of the happy hours and such. And then now we are forced because of this upper hand of the pandemic, forced to reevaluate our culture and reevaluate how we work together and reevaluate what the office looks like. There’s a firm out there, I believe it’s FisherBroyles, they don’t have any offices, they’re all remote. And I wonder if law firms will be starting to move more toward that model because we did prove that we can do it.

Robyn:

And clients, I can’t take credit for this statement, but I think Jen Smuts is the person who said this to me, clients are going to expect it. Clients, if they don’t have to pay to fly an attorney out to their office and be there for two days for depositions, ’cause it can be done over Zoom, that’s how they’re gonna wanna have that done. And yes, face-to-face, as a former event meeting planner, I’m always going to support face-to-face interaction for relationship building, but that’s not always the best method of getting work done. So obviously, we could talk a lot about this.

Kristyn:

I could talk for hours about this. And that being said, I will say that by my firm did have nice culture. It did feel like a family because I came from a small firm, but still a lot of work to be done everywhere.

Robyn:

Yeah, for sure. So last question. What advice would you have for legal marketers today at any level?

Kristyn:

Legal marketers at any level don’t be afraid to make mistakes. So my background is actually in theater and music. I am a double theater major, so I majored in lighting design and acting.

Robyn:

I did not know that about you.

Kristyn:

So I definitely can take constructive criticism well, because as an acting major you’re performing in these shows and the director will give you a note and say that was awful, you need to change that. And I think I’m able to just brush off those kinds of harsh comments and that constructive feedback that we get from attorneys and we can get from our bosses and our leaders. And I think that empowered me to not be as afraid to make mistakes in my career. I made some mistakes, I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted to end up. I thought honest to God that I’d be on Broadway. I really thought that I’d be a lighting designer or I would be singing or I would be on a tour somewhere and then my first job was at the conference center at Sullivan & Worcester, running events and applying some direct skills there from my theater degree. But I never imagined that I would be sitting at a desk in an office every single day. And that is 10, 15 years ago, I would have hated that. But now nine years into my career, I’m just very excited to have found my footing and found my bearing. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to end up. I have a very eclectic background, with some graphic design, some event planning, marketing technology, business development trading, digital marketing. So I think all of those different backgrounds really helped develop me into who I am and how I do have this multifaceted marketing practice of my own and I can really help others with their strategy. But my advice, especially to younger legal marketers, if you don’t know where you want to land, do you want to be in digital marketing? Do you want to be in business development? Would you rather work on SEO and social media and focus really on the outward-facing stuff? Would you rather be working on RFPs and pitches and proposals? Would you rather be coaching and training attorneys? It’s ok not to know, and it’s okay to maybe make a wrong move in your career because you will always land on your feet where you are supposed to land. And I really do think that I’ve landed where I’m supposed to land and my trajectory really did lead me in, a very upward motion and upward mobility for my career. I started at the lowest level you could start at a pretty big law firm. And now here I am in a new role where I can continue to advise clients on their marketing and business development strategies and really help them because I made all of these mistakes in my past and I’ve learned from them. So I say that to everyone, don’t be afraid to make a mistake because that’s the best way to learn. Screw something up, screw something up royally. I mean, obviously don’t make such a big mistake that it’s going to hurt someone’s life or impact the quality of someone’s life or business, but it’s okay to make a mistake. Have a typo in a press release, it’s all right. You’ll learn from it and hopefully, you won’t make that mistake again. But that’s my advice.

Robyn:

I love that advice. So I actually have, as you’re saying this, it’s bringing back memories of being a very junior legal marketer and having very poor attention to detail skills. And when you said make a mistake in a press release, I’m like, yep, totally I’ve done that. But now my attention to detail is razor sharp because I made those mistakes, because I had to own, face the music when I turned in something that was subpar, ’cause I never wanted to deal with that again. I think that’s in the line of what you’re saying. You learn from those things and you just get better and that’s how you get better and you grow the experience that you have. That’s really sage advice, thank you for sharing that.

Kristyn:

Of course.

Robyn:

Well, thank you so much for being on today. Thank you so much for joining our team. We’re so excited to have you here.

Kristyn:

Doing a little party. I’m very excited to be a part of the team. I think this is the dream team, as someone said to me.

Robyn:

It is the dream team, totally. We’ve got a good thing going here and you were the icing on top. So thanks so much for being a part of it and thanks for being on the show and I’m sure we’ll hear much more from you soon and going forward.

Kristyn:

I’m, sure. Thank you for having me. And I think this is the perfect way to welcome me to the team.