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LMA Southeast / Southwest Next Big Thing: A Pre-Program Interview with Presenter Cynthia Voth

By Elizabeth Brick posted 10-04-2021 08:27


On October 7, LMA Southeast and Southwest will co-host "Collaborating Across Departments" with Cynthia Voth, Chief Client Officer at Miller Nash as part of The Next Big Thing. Ahead of the virtual program, Cynthia answered a few questions about the Prosci ADKAR® change management model and how legal marketers can leverage their roles with the firm for enhanced management opportunities.

1. Can you provide a quick overview of the Prosci ADKAR® Model?

The Prosci ADKAR® Model is an framework to facilitate change within an organization. ADKAR is an acronym for the five outcomes that need to be achieved for change to be successful: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. The model is based on the understanding that organizational change can only happen when individuals change.​

2. Why have you leveraged this model vs. other change management models?

The ADKAR model addresses a healthy balance of both the emotional and logistical elements of change management. Most individuals are resistant to change, and we all know that sometimes change can be derailed when just one loud and resistant voice does not understand or believe in the change. The ADKAR model is a framework to help ensure that you attend to not only the decision to bring about a change, but also how to create desire for that change so that it is accepted, championed, and lasts. Other change models certainly address some of the logistical and emotional elements of change management, but this model seems particularly useful for the challenging personality dynamics that can sometimes prevent well-thought-out change happening at law firms. 

3. Do you think that change management is particularly challenging in the legal world? If so, how do you think this model helps?

Change is hard for all people, since we are wired to prefer the familiar. It can be particularly challenging in the legal profession, which is precedent based. Legal practitioners are trained to reference what has been done before and look to the past—not to look to the future or to innovate. Firms also like to copy their competition. “What are other firms doing?” is one of the first questions you may encounter when presenting a possible change. Prior to the pandemic, legal technology advances, information sharing, and competition from Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) were disrupting the legal industry, but hesitancy to adapt was still preventing many firms from advancing the way they needed to advance. The good news is that the past year and a half of massive disruption to how we work has shown the legal community that we can change and adapt quickly when needed. Hopefully that will carry over to the future to allow us to change and adapt to better meet market needs.

4. How many times have you leveraged the model, and are there any projects for which you would not suggest using it?
Before I knew that the ADKAR model existed, I had employed versions of it any time I was bringing about a change throughout my career. I learned early on that people need to desire, embrace, and champion change in order for it to be successful. Because of that, I have yet to encounter any projects that I would not suggest it for. 

5. If someone is implementing the Prosci ADKAR® Model for the first time, what advice would you give them?
If using the model for the first time, I would suggest that you take the time to chart out what each of the steps would look like for the change you are planning to bring about in your organization, but also to be sure to include or get input from representatives of all of the constituents that will be impacted to ensure that their perspectives are factored into your approach. Each of those constituents holds a unique piece to the puzzle that can lead to your success. If you leave out key pieces, your design will be incomplete. They can also be champions who can help shepherd in the change. The second piece of advice I have is to know who your biggest and most powerful critics are going to be and invest the time to make sure they understand what is in it for them. 

6. Your session is also planning to discuss the opportunities available to legal marketers to take on a larger management role. If you had one piece of advice for someone seeking to take on an enhanced management role within their own firm, what would it be?
To work successfully across departments and in management my advice is to develop relationships with the people in the departments outside of BD/marketing to get to know them and what they do. In order for firms to thrive, collaborating across departments is critical. Nearly every process and output of the firm is connected to multiple departments and when people operate in silos we do lower-quality, less-effective work. Legal marketers are fortunate in that we tend to work with a spectrum of people throughout the law firm, so there are many opportunities that arise to take advantage of.

To learn more about the program and to register, click here.

About Cynthia Voth:
Cynthia Voth is Chief Client Officer at Miller Nash—a 160-attorney firm based in the Northwest. She is an experienced legal marketer and law firm leader with a passion for collaborating with and coaching attorneys on business development and delivering excellent client service. In her role as Chief Client Officer, she oversees the firm's Marketing/BD, IT, Records, and Legal Support Staff departments. Dedicated to the advancement of the legal profession and an active volunteer with the Legal Marketing Association, Cynthia served as President of the International Board of Directors in 2019.