Are You Tone Deaf?

I really thought about not posting a Rainmaking Recommendation for this week.

I thought that no matter what I posted, it would be considered to be inappropriate for what is occurring in the United States and in the world.  But, after spending the past few days on social media (alternately crying and getting supremely angry), not only because of the actual events that have been happening but also because I am seeing a tremendous number of inappropriate posts that seem to just disregard what is going on, I felt I had to say something. 

So, while this isn’t a Rainmaking Recommendation, per se (and that’s why it isn’t numbered), it is a bit of a rant of sorts, with a lesson built-in.

I had a conversation with my friend and colleague, Daniel K. Wiig, who suggested that I write about some of the law firms/lawyers out there being tone-deaf.  Without calling anyone out, there is a time and a place for your marketing and sometimes you need to stop for a little while.  It is not the time to announce any accolades you may have received.  It is not the time to post invitations to webinars or events. It is not the time to post anything not related to the topics at hand. Hell, it’s not even the time to post COVID resources (at least for a few days).  And, it’s not the time for email after email about your firm’s response to COVID.  For those lawyers or law firms who have automatic posts on social media and haven’t turned them off – that is tone-deaf.

I have written about being empathetic during the pandemic many times.  To check-in with your colleagues, clients, and friends to see how they were doing when they were forced to quarantine and stay home.  But this situation is different.  Empathy, according to the advocates of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, isn’t’ enough, nor are “thoughts and prayers.”  They want brands to step up.

But, this is not about branding – although your branding will suffer if you are tone deaf at inappropriate times.  This is not about business development or marketing – you can take a day or two off while the world is burning to focus on more important things.  This is about not just going on with life without considering what is going on in our country and in the world and how what you say and do will affect those around you.  

Want to make a difference?  Then be the law firm that steps up and ensures that real diversity and inclusion happens in your firm.  And for lawyers who make political contributions, please research the candidates to whom you are giving money and make sure that they are supporting the causes and ideals you support.  Because there are a number of candidates on both sides who are saying one thing and then not walking the talk. 

I don’t care whether you are conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat; you made a promise when you were sworn in as an attorney in your state.  And while the language may differ from state to state, they all have one thing in common – the pledge to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Including protecting protestors, reporters, and those who have been unfairly arrested or detained without knowing why they were being so treated.   

Thank you to the law firms and companies that got it right.  Thank you to those who chose not to post, or posted something that was in solidarity against racism and discrimination.  Thank you to the lawyers who understand that for at least one day, we could all stop and just think about what is right or wrong. 

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