Standing at the Precipice is an example of a unique point of view: For over 100 years, the legal profession has existed virtually unchanged. Weighed down by decades of precedent and immune to innovation. Those days are over. The time for change has come for the business of law.

This is our story:

I’d say that the swords are drawn with this 3-minute video from RethinkLaw.org. So, who’s behind this Standing at the Precipice video? Short answer: an innovative marketing director and a powerful company culture that embraces a blue ocean strategy.

Let me unpack for you:

1) The Culture  New York-based Axiom Global Inc. created RethinkLaw. This is an enterprise that employs 900 lawyers. Axiom is part law firm and part technology company. The company “aims to disrupt the way legal services are delivered to the country’s largest companies.” This is not your typical law firm. The company has raised $65 million from investors like Benchmark Capital, JP Morgan Partners, Greenhill Capital Partners and Carrick Capital Partners. Thirteen years after launching, Axiom represents nearly half of the Fortune 100.

Mark Harris is Axiom’s CEO and Founder and he’s known for cutting-edge commentary about legal issues. Here’s an excerpt of his email to clients and his broader external network regarding RethinkLaw and the video’s release: “The truth: law firm lawyers…[are]…languishing in a business model that was built for another era… As an industry, we can do better… We created [the video] in connection with the launch of Rethinklaw.org, a partnered effort with a select group of the world’s most influential General Counsel to work out the way forward.” From the RethinkLaw site:

 

 

 

 

Even though Axiom states otherwise, the company is definitely pushing an agenda and trying to shape the dialogue through the auspices of RethinkLaw and that’s okay. Drive that agenda, Mark. The objective of RethinkLaw is to curate innovative thinking and discussion — to be that ignition source and a catalyst. Last March, the National Law Journal named Mark one of The 100 Most Influential Lawyers. He’s not the kind of guy to get trapped by 100 years of dogma.

The sooner more law firm “leaders” embrace the notion that the business of law requires strong leadership, management and organizational development the better clients will be served.

That’s the culture that Mark created at Axiom and the “why we are doing what we do”  informs and inspires the rest of this story.

2) The Blue Ocean Strategy In essence, Axiom offers clients a leap in value while streamlining the cost of services to the client. The company is pursuing differentiation and low cost. This is a blue ocean strategy. The logic behind this is counterintuitive: the aim isn’t to out-perform the competition in the existing industry, but to create new market space or a blue ocean, effectively making the competition irrelevant.

Companies have long engaged in head-to-head competition in search of sustained, profitable growth. They have fought for competitive advantage, battled over market share, and struggled for differentiation. Yet in today’s overcrowded industries, competing head-on results in nothing but bloody “red oceans” of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool.

For more information on blue ocean strategy, see HBR’s summary and Blue Ocean Strategy website.

3) The Innovative Marketing Director For the last 6+ years, Liana Guzmán has served as Axiom’s Marketing Director. She’s the creative spark and executor behind the RethinkLaw video.

Liana’s novel approach and unique point-of-view builds solid online reach and social spread for Axiom.

Adam Smith Esq. initially released Liana’s video. Then Above The Law picked up the video. That’s when the video went viral on Twitter. I came across the video in Tara Magee Weintritt‘s twitter stream when she retweeted Nat Slavin:

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 4.01.21 PM

I called Liana last week to develop a deeper sense for her approach. I asked her about the creative spark for this video. Liana’s response:

I am innately interested in innovative companies and, in particular, those that are disrupting their respective industries. And though I never anticipated landing in a legal services firm – primarily because the industry as a whole tends to be fairly insular and ‘play it safe’ – I was attracted to Axiom because of the firm’s unique position in transforming an industry that hasn’t meaningfully changed in over a century.

My career here has been really fulfilling: I subscribe to a “Blue Ocean” philosophy and Axiom has embraced that unique perspective. As a result, I’ve not been confined by the normal constraints of the buttoned–up white shoe legal industry. Luckily its seems others have embraced it as well, because it feels like the more we’ve pushed the envelope, the more those in our industry have responded.

Liana, did you create this video with social media distribution top of mind?

There’s been a lot of coverage of the state of the legal industry post-economic meltdown but there weren’t many (if any) pieces that looked at the story holistically (rather than as a series of independent issues facing one industry) so we wanted to create something that did. Stylistically, we were inspired by similar motion graphics videos created for other industries. And though distribution is always a consideration, we chose this format because it is the perfect vehicle for disseminating a complex and nuanced narrative in an easily digestible (and visually appealing) way.

Liana and her crew deserve a hat tip for creating compelling content. And, making that content easy to share (like this 3-minute video) means that folks are more likely to syndicate Axiom’s novel message across their social networks. That creates reach among weaker social ties. We can all learn from Liana, Mark and the Axiom team.

That’s leadership close up.

How have you used visuals (like video) to disseminate complex and nuanced narratives to extend your social reach?

A parting thought: