Updated: Jan 8, 2021
“We’re interested in what you want to do. What you’re doing is an act of hope. You understand that?” - Nora Fanshaw, Marriage Story
In Marriage Story, viewers met Nora Fanshaw, a powerhouse female divorce lawyer who fiercely advocates for her client by building a true, genuine connection. In this scene, she encourages her client to think about her own best interests and pursue her own dreams, highlighting the sincerity of the connection they share.
Therein lies one of the secret powers of women lawyers. Research on gender differences in professional settings shows that women treat relationship development as a worthwhile endeavor on its own, while men establish professional relationships with an end benefit in mind. As women, we can tap into our natural tendencies and strengths and use them in the professional world to advance our legal careers. Here are some ideas on how female relationship marketing can take place in a male dominated industry.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of networking with other legal professionals. However, it is important to take this one step further and devote time specifically to connecting with other women, both inside and outside of the legal profession. Numbers have shifted in recent years, and women law students now outnumber men. Still, old power structures remain in law firms. Partnership and leadership roles within law firms are largely held by men.
Overcoming this type of imbalance requires intentional effort. It is vital to engage in legal organizations, such as the CWBA, that empower women and create safe spaces where we can share our experiences, failures, and successes.
Women are significantly underrepresented in other industries, including engineering, technology, and finance. Many large metropolitan areas now have networking associations that connect women from a variety of industries, allowing members to benefit from each other’s resources and connections. As a Colorado female lawyer, regardless of your practice area focus, consider becoming involved in these groups to build new connections and explore new business development opportunities.
Events for Women by Women
Events designed for women lawyers are a breath of fresh air in a world where women often feel the need to hide their natural communication style and conform to a corporate culture that does not always recognize their inherent strengths. Women-led events give women the freedom to speak about their struggles in the legal industry, develop initiatives that pave the way for a more equitable future, and benefit from others’ connections and ideas. I have started hosting women-only networking events in a salon setting for this very reason. With wine, appetizers and hair blow-out treatments provided to each attendee, these networking events are as fun as they are effective for the women attorneys that attend. Women-only events and women-run events are an easy way to tap into relationship marketing of your law practice.
Developing Your Skills and Strengths
Recognizing your skills and strengths is an act of bravery. The skills you have developed as an attorney apply to a number of other challenges you may face in your career. Knowing how to negotiate, actively listen to clients, and work under pressure puts you in a position where you can create meaningful, genuine relationships with both men and women.
Research indicates a tendency among women lawyers to focus on service and, as a result, each client’s experience. Valuing the entire process, rather than just the outcome, yields client loyalty. Again, it’s the difference between pursuing relationships because of what benefit they might offer versus developing relationships for their inherent value.
When you look at the skills used in relationship building, it becomes clear that women often have a solid advantage. Understanding the other person’s situation and active listening are key skills needed for effective communication, and research supports the idea that women excel at both. As a female attorney, this is an innate skill that will augment your relationship marketing strategy.
The world of law is changing – albeit slowly. While there are still structures in place that may restrict the advancement of women attorneys, a growing body of research highlights the strengths that women bring to the table. In 2020 and beyond, we have the power to affect change and create a better work environment not just for ourselves but for those who come after us.
Meranda M. Vieyra is the owner of Denver Legal Marketing LLC. She is one of the most visible legal professionals in Colorado law with over 20 years of service in the Denver legal community. Her award-winning marketing firm has earned a strong reputation as the go-to for impactful, cost-effective legal marketing strategies. She has helped her clients secure coverage by well-known publications and has obtained local, national, and international awards on their behalf. Meranda enjoys working with solo practitioners and small law firms helping them attract recognition, promotion, and visibility to their practices. She also advises medium-sized and national law firms on business development and marketing strategy. Meranda is a lecturer and author on issues related to marketing including how lawyers can use LinkedIn effectively, how to develop a personal brand, and the promotion of legal services through community service. In 2018, she was honored to be named to the 40 Under 40 list by the Denver Business Journal and to be given the 10 Under 10 Award by the Metropolitan State University of Denver Alumni Association (top 10 alum of the decade). In 2019, Meranda was named in the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business by the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce and in the Top 100 young professionals in Colorado through the Gen XYZ Awards published by ColoradoBiz Magazine.
For more information, go to www.DenverLegalMarketing.com