Legal Marketing Association Interviews Al Driver

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 13:54

The editorial staff is proud to present excerpts from an interview with our Editor-in-Chief, Al Driver, conducted by the LMA Metropolitan New York Chapter and published on September 18, 2014. A former General Counsel of JC Penney, Mr. Driver founded The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel (MCC) more than 20 years ago, coinciding with the time when marketing and visibility took hold in the legal industry. 

How does MCC differ from other legal industry periodicals?

MCC, unlike many legal publications, focuses primarily on content written by outside lawyers. Every issue is packed with articles so that our corporate counsel readers will find at least a few of immediate interest. This unfiltered approach provides an opportunity for law firm lawyers and legal service providers to share their expertise directly with MCC’s corporate counsel readers.

Why is it important for outside counsel and legal service providers to provide thought leadership and share it with other lawyers?

For corporate counsel, their working lives are a continuing learning experience. Law firms and legal service providers that help them keep up to date on developments in the legal field are much appreciated. This sensitized us to the need for a national newspaper to make information from leading law firms and service providers available to corporate counsel across the country. It also enhances the credentials of the firms and the attorneys/interviewees.

Why should law firms pay to be published when there are many free opportunities available to them?

MCC provides law firm marketers with the opportunity to showcase the quality work of their lawyers in a publication reaching a broad readership of corporate counsel. The time, effort, and cost of finding free opportunities to reach virtually all corporate counsel in ways that get their attention is likely to far exceed our price for publication. Because we do interviews at no additional cost, lawyers who cannot take the time to write an article can be interviewed on their specific area of the law.

Are there opportunities for lawyers to contribute to MCC without paying?

Yes. We interview lawyers who are leaders of many legal organizations such as ACC, the ABA, and state/local/national bar associations. These attorneys do not pay.

What are the hottest topics and areas of the law that lawyers want to write about – and read about. How has that changed over the years?

The hot topics have changed and keep changing. Take technology, Dodd-Frank, compliance issues, mediation and dispute resolution, alternative fee agreements, and legal project management – not to mention how diversity and its definition have expanded. Technology, cybersecurity and inversions are topics we recently featured in our September issue. Our readers also appreciate works that cover developments in many established practice areas.

How has The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel evolved over the years?

In looking at our first issue dated September 1993, I see little change over our 21-year history in the quality of the content. The number of pages has grown from 28 originally to 64 in our July-August 2014 issue, our print circulation is national, and we now have a very active website, a digital edition, and the mccreview, a weekly e-newsletter. Our website, among other things, enables corporate counsel to find an outside lawyer who may be up to speed on an issue he or she may face.

How have legal marketing and communications changed since the time MCC was founded?                   

There were very few legal marketers 21 years ago. Today’s legal marketing and communications professionals are very sophisticated. Back then, if a law firm had a marketing department it was mostly administrative. There was no such thing as a CMO.

At a time when so many changes are occurring in the legal landscape and so many new apps and technologies are becoming available on an almost daily basis, law firm marketers are tasked with keeping up to date. I always come away from recent meetings of NYLMA with great new ideas that we try to implement. The programming has become more substantive, and attendance has vastly increased. 

What is your professional background?

I started practicing law in New York with a select law firm and became active on committees of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (the City Bar). That experience taught me the importance of learning about legal issues from the other members of those committees.

After I joined the legal department of JC Penney, the New York City Bar set up industry committees for inside counsel. Like MCC, these committees gave corporate counsel an opportunity to get insights from outside lawyers about issues that concerned them. I became a senior vice president and general counsel of JC Penney and attribute my successes in that role to the quality of advice given by its outside counsel.