In the field of medicine, sometimes a patient armed with the right information can make an impact in their own healthcare through self diagnosis and get the right treatment faster as a result. This idea of self diagnosis is relevant in the legal world as well, only it's not about diagnosing a problem. There is one thing that every lawyer needs in order to make any kind of argument – a precedent. Precedents allow arguments to be made in court based on other arguments that have been made previously, and they are what the legal system in America is built on. A landmark case is only considered such because it creates a precedent that all following cases can use.

So if you want to get your lawyer's attention and have a chance of getting them to buy into what you want to do, you need to find a precedent for what you are trying to do. This is what the EPA did in order to get approval to run a video contest by using a precedent from 1927. Their challenge was getting around strict rules of government procurement, and the solution came from the precedent of the government running a contest to find the winning design for the Memorial Bridge back in 1927.

Today there are legal blogs in just about every industry (even the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry) and they can offer clues about new legislation that can help you make your case. You can also find out about new campaigns from your competitor, or even from another division of your own organization to demonstrate precedence.

Many marketers like to blame their lack of innovation on their lawyers. They are an easy target – but remember, their job isn't to help you sell more stuff or engage your customers. Their job is to minimize risk. The problem is that often great marketing is inherently risky. So your best chance of getting your next big idea through legal review is to give your lawyers a defensible position. Find a precedent and you'll be far closer to getting your lawyers to let you do what you want – or at the very least make it harder for them to say no.