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Without exception, whenever I have seen a General Counsel (GC) asked about law firm email newsletters, I have witnessed the exact same response: Immediate Anger. I witnessed this recently at the COLPM Futures Conference. When the email newsletter subject came up with a panel of GCs, the angry responses ran the gamut of:

  • Delete, delete, delete.
  • These are on subjects I don’t care about.
  • I receive a flood of them whenever my company gets sued. Nice try.
  • The subject lines are meaningless to me. Why would I open these?

So these newsletters are not worthless. Calling them worthless would be too kind. Instead they are relationship poison. So why do firms send them?

In defense of legal marketers, I believe this is not their doing. Having been in that role in the past, I know that partners insist on the current approach. To highlight the frustration – partners insist on subject lines that violate every reasonable marketing standard. Subject lines are 50% of the reason someone opens an email. They need to be short, relevant and attention-getting. A lengthy and technically accurate sentence in a subject line is therefore plainly a bad idea. But partners insist on this approach because they think clients will be impressed with their legal acumen and command of the English language.

The message is clear from clients: Stop sending these. Yes, they would find short, targeted (as in sent to the right type of client and lawyer), actionable, valuable legal updates from their firms to be useful. However, the current crop of quasi-law review emails they get have negative value.

Lawyers: You hired marketing professionals – let them do their jobs. Your clients will obviously appreciate it.