Speaker Profile: Deb Knupp, Managing Director – Akina, A GrowthPlay Company

IMG_0056Business founder, authentic coach, passionate parent, innovation curator, crusader for the underserved, coffee indulger and country music car singer zealously committed to do my part to make the world better by helping others find and become the best version of themselves.

What are you most often asked to speak about at conferences and trade shows?

I am always incredibly honored to be invited to speak at conferences.  The topic of business development, client experience, innovation and how law firms become “Great Law” law firms is the area of focus on which I speak most frequently.  “Great Law” law firms have a reimagined view of what profitability looks like and focus on making their firms THE place that the most profitable clients WANT to buy, most talented colleagues WANT to work and most inspired leaders WANT to serve a bigger purpose in their communities.  I am thrilled to be sharing this message with you all at this year’s LMA NE Regional Conference!

What do you consider the highlight of your career?

It would be tempting to say that the highlight of my career was starting Akina in 2001, selling Akina in 2014 to a private equity firm and successfully integrating into GrowthPlay over the past two years. But that’s not the highlight.  The highlight is always any lawyer I have ever worked with who has experienced personal transformation.  My favorite highlight just happened a few days ago.

I am currently coaching a 52-year-old female litigator who has spent the past 25 years as a high stakes tobacco litigation specialist working with two senior partners who have always fed her billable work.  In the past 90 days, one of the senior partners left the firm, one partner retired and her entire pipeline of billable work evaporated overnight.

She and I began working together several weeks ago through a sales coaching program to completely reinvent her and her practice. The fear and shame she’s been feeling has been palpable in each of our meetings, and her general sense of hopelessness has had her believing that she wouldn’t be able to recover.  Despite that, she has faithfully attended each coaching session and completed her “homework” assignments with zeal.  Her confidence has been growing, she is discovering amazing potential to serve clients in a new, reinvented way, and she is gaining traction for new business development.

Before we completed our most recent coaching meeting, she asked if she could give me some feedback.

She confided and said that she has been rocked to her core in the last two years of her life – lost her father whom she describes as her hero and battled breast cancer to become a survivor and now this… completely losing her law practice.  She then said of all of the fears that she has faced and uncertainties she’s weathered (death and illness), that nothing has compared to the fear she has had in the loss of her work.   She then said, and I quote, “learning how to do business development has literally saved my life.  I’m immeasurably grateful and forever changed.”  And there it is… legal business development skills “saving lives”.  What we do in legal marketing matters for people. Legal marketers give lawyers life-changing skills and confidence when we teach them (and show them) how to market and develop business.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our attendees?

Consider that nothing of importance or significance in the world (business, education, government, or social justice) happens apart from lawyers.  If lawyers aren’t at their best, then potentially everything of importance or significance in the world could be marginalized.  Legal marketers hold the key to helping lawyers be the best version of themselves – not just in business development – but in helping lawyers as human beings be more authentic, more generous, more intentional, better leaders and more engaged/energized to serve others.  Legal marketers are the great stewards of Great Law and have superpowers to impact the world.


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