Thought Leadership 2.0

Originally published in the National Law Journal on November 17, 2011

In the world of marketing, and particularly with the explosion of social media, no term is more overused than “thought leadership.” Yet the expression is often misunderstood. To illuminate why, I interviewed James Durham, a lawyer and chief marketing officer of McGuireWoods. I hoped he could help me demonstrate that although “thought leadership” is overused, the underlying concept remains essential to legal marketing.

Durham has been speaking and writing about thought leadership for lawyers for more than a decade. Before becoming a CMO, he had his own consulting firm, working with hundreds of law firms around the country.

Thought leadership — which essentially means developing a reputation as a leading expert in a particular field — forces lawyers to highlight one specialty, and this can cause great discomfort. “Won’t my existing clients feel alienated if I market myself to a more narrow niche?” some might wonder. “Won’t it take me out of the running for all of the other types of work I do?” Read more