Are you a liability for your clients’ brand identity?
Most law firms tend to view their reputation through the narrow lens of expertise; that is, if a firm provides its clients with excellent, reliable counsel on the matters that affect the client’s bottom line, that firm can rest assured that the relationship is secure. Whatever else may be happening—or not happening—within the firm’s walls is irrelevant.
Maybe that was true in the past, but these days big corporations, firms’ most desired clients, are exquisitely tuned in to public opinion in the interest of protecting brand identity. As many recent news events have shown, the public is demanding accountability when companies fail to address issues around diversity, sexual harassment, and involvement with distasteful organizations. And the credibility of a brand can be tainted not just by bad press at the company itself, but also by missteps at firms who provide them services. That means if your firm’s house is not in order, it poses a genuine threat to your business. Whatever the value of your services, you can be replaced easier than a client’s reputation can be repaired for involvement with a tainted firm.
If you’re skeptical that merely being perceived as neutral or worse on these hot-button issues of the day could do your firm harm, follow your clients’ gaze. In addition to spending princely sums to gather and analyze data on current customer opinions, these corporations keep a keen eye on identifying and preparing for their future customers. The oldest members of Generation Z, the 61 million people born after 1996, are moving into adulthood in the Trump era, with all that it entails. Polling on Gen Zs’ identity is so far pretty scarce, but they are perceived by Gen Xers and Boomers as being more politically aware and willing to bail on brands who fail to prioritize fairness and accountability.
From a communications perspective, the most important thing a law firm can do is to see itself through its clients eyes. Be proactive in addressing these issues, both because it’s the right thing to do and because, otherwise, your clients could begin to see you as potential liability, rather than a resource.