The Xs and Os of a Winning Law Firm: 5 Football Lessons That Will Help Your Business Thrive in 2021

We’re pretty big football fans at the office and several of us look forward to every single game. Usually screen time helps us turn off our work brains, but lately, we’ve been watching football with marketing on our minds. Suddenly it hit us: A winning football team and a thriving law firm have a lot in common. Honestly, the same could be said for any business! If you apply these five lessons from football, you’ll set your company up for a fantastic “season” in 2021. 


A playbook is absolutely essential in football. Those scribbled Xs and Os describe the routes key players will run and keep the whole team on the same page. Without it, offensive and defensive coordination would go out the window and the players would start charging willy-nilly across the field. Who wants to watch that game? 

The same is true in business. Without a playbook — aka the written systems and processes detailing how your firm operates — even the most well-disciplined team can turn into a chaotic scrum. It’s absolutely vital that you not only have processes and procedures, but also that you write them down in detail. You’d be surprised how many times we’ve seen a firm drop the ball on their marketing because they don’t have a process in place for getting it done right. On top of that, a playbook can alleviate tension between the players and their coaches (aka your employees and you) when a play goes sideways. If something doesn’t go according to plan, you can whip out the playbook and explain where the route your employee was running went wrong. 


There are a lot of different ways to win a football game. Some winning teams prefer to pass like crazy, while others focus on running the ball. On defense, Team A might be aggressive and blitz more often to put pressure on the quarterback, while Team B might sit back in coverage and play more conservatively to defend the pass. None of these strategies are “right” or “wrong,” but every team DOES have one. Having a cohesive strategy and executing it to the fullest brings a team together and makes them more effective — and the same is true in a law firm. 

Your firm needs to have a strategy that defines your approach to law. Are you the aggressive bulldogs who are in it to win it in every case? Or are you the feel-good attorneys who take a gentler approach, focusing on shepherding your clients through hardship? Either persona can work, but knowing your strategy and making it clear to yourself, your team, and your clients is essential to success. 


Reading this section head you’re probably thinking, “Yes, I know every football team has positions, and every business has them, too — duh,” but stick with us! Yes, we do want you to think of your receptionists and paralegals as running backs and wide receivers, but you also need to dive deeper. What traits and duties make a great running back or a fantastic receptionist? To help your business succeed, you need to create clearly defined positions AND make sure you’re filling them with the right people. 

If a guy has two left feet, would you really make him a running back? Similarly, if a receptionist always sounds bored and exhausted on the phone, should they really be a receptionist? Here at Spotlight Branding, we call this matching process “right person, right seat” and encourage our clients to constantly reevaluate their staff with that idea in mind. Do you have head coaches, coaching staff, and players who know (and fit) their roles inside and out? If not, it’s time to reshuffle and refocus. 


Every sports team has a brand — they have a team name, team colors, a logo, a website, and social media pages. These “brands” exist to sell their product (the games), and hype up their fans. In your law firm, your clients are your fan base, and your branding should stand out to them like a neon sign screaming, “This is for you!” 

Sports teams advertise to their bases with Subway partnerships and eye-catching cheerleaders. When you’re creating your content and other marketing materials, ask yourself, “What will resonate with my clients?” If you’re a family law attorney, images of happy families could be ideal. Every “fan base” is a little bit different, but you can win yours over by creating a brand, message, and content that appeals directly to them. 


Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: Business has no “offseason,” and the holidays are the worst possible time to take your foot off the gas pedal. That said, there are a lot of great principles at work in a football offseason that you can steal. 

Offseason is when coaches take a step back to reassess their strategy, revise their playbook, evaluate their personnel, and decide if changes need to be made. You can — and should! — take time to do these things, too. Here at Spotlight Branding, we do this type of evaluation quarterly. If you don’t have the breathing room for an “offseason” conversation right this second, here’s our challenge for you: Look ahead to 2021 and put these evaluations on your calendar. 

That’s it — five lessons from football that will help your firm play its best season ever. If you’re not sure where to start on putting them into action, we can help. Strategy and brand building are our specialties, and we have a network of business coaches, staffing experts, and culture gurus that we’d love to connect you with to help with the rest. Whether you’re looking for our services, a referral, or both, contact us today.

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Spotlight Branding

Spotlight Branding is a content marketing and branding firm for lawyers and other professionals. Our goal is to help you create an online presence that positions you as a credible expert in your field, keeps you connected with your network in order to stay top of mind and increase referrals, and to become more visible online so prospects can find you!