March/April 2021

Perspectives: Investing in Internal

Traci Ray

Marketing is what initially drew me to my current role. Sometimes I can tell that people seriously question my enthusiasm for legal marketing, but what can I say? I find enjoyment in cheering on and supporting the things and people I love. And when it comes to legal marketing, we are selling the time and talents of our team members, and, I must say, I sincerely believe in that product at Barran Liebman.

Generally, all the hype (and most of the moolah) goes to external marketing. I get it, and I appreciate it. However, there is this entire other world of marketing that I refer to as internal marketing. Here, we are talking about mentoring, communication, skill set, cross-marketing and good ole’ fashioned relationships. Internal marketing is one of the most, if not the most important piece of a solid career. Think of it this way: Does everyone in your office know what you love to do? The cases you dream about? The last interesting motion you argued (win or lose)? And conversely, do you off the top of your head know who is the thought leader inside your own walls on the latest rules and regulations? And when a reporter calls, do you get that colleague on the line with you?

Internal marketing is what makes a team. It is what makes a firm more than a collection of solos. It’s a concerted effort to develop talent, promote that talent, set people up for success and share those successes in an inclusive way. It is also what makes a firm a friendly place—where people actually have a space to share this type of information, in a setting that values trust.

Once internal marketing is firing on all cylinders, it’s absolutely incredible how much more exciting and fulfilling external marketing becomes. When there is a product to sell and that product is cohesive and well-oiled, the messaging is more clear and more dominant. It reminds me of “seethrough” marketing. Have you ever watched a commercial or flipped past an ad in a paper and either truly not noticed it or actually didn’t even believe it? That’s the product of a spineless campaign that is just hawking bells and whistles, like a diversion from the actual item. In legal marketing, it’s very similar. Throwing a bunch of headshots together and throwing on a tagline is a communication, but not necessary marketing. What makes these people in the photographs special? Why should someone hire them? What can they do to assist with legal needs? It just so happens that if you have knowledge of these attorneys, you can better explain the answers to these questions. You can showcase their talents, render them relatable and perhaps even inspire someone to give them a call when they need their particular expertise.

Connection on a personal level is what marketing is all about. Inside office walls and out in the marketplace, connections and how people are inspired to feel are what gets people to act. If we are going to spend money and resources on our external image, let’s also spend our energy on our internal teams—there’s no better value than investing in talent and relationships. 

Traci Ray

Executive Director

Traci Ray is the executive director at Barran Liebman LLP, Portland’s employment, labor and benefits law firm. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar and serves as the 2020-21 chair of the Law Practice Division.