David Byrne

Chief Marketing Officer
Mourant Ozannes

David Byrne.200LFMS: What three industry trends are impacting the industry the most and how are they changing the role of marketers and business development professionals within law firms?

1. Technology has given us more channels to communicate with our audiences/clients, faster and more direct access to audiences – we have hired digital specialists and have dramatically increased use of social media – expect this to only continue, and our new website will give us a modern, future-proofed platform for this. We are also using more advanced analytical data to make our strategy more effective and our service more efficient.

2. Clients are putting more rigour around how they recruit, assess and measure their suppliers and that is starting to be evident offshore at the same pace as onshore, we are seeing more thoughtful structuring of supplier panels, engagement terms, diversity programmes and stringent requirements around information security for example. And all of these factors have an impact on the BD and marketing strategy.

3. Competition – the industry is more competitive than ever, and firms are increasingly willing to invest in their business development and marketing professionals and systems because they recognise the value (and necessity) of employing experts to help them retain and attract clients and effectively communicate with the people who matter to them most. For example, our Marketing Communications team operates as an in-house agency, with dedicated specialists in communications, design and global digital roles driving our marketing and communications activity forward proactively and undertaking projects such as a website rebuild and brand which we expect to come to fruition imminently. This kind of dedicated function is becoming more common as firms realise what they need to do in to keep up and stand out from their competitors.

LFMS: Is there a key factor that helps marketers and business development professionals build a better relationship with law firm partners? Or, how can law firm partners empower their BD and marketing teams?

Partners at Mourant Ozannes all have a say in the way the firm is managed. They care passionately about their clients and as such want to ensure that the way we market to them is appropriate. Major marketing initiatives will be discussed at global partner meetings to ensure alignment with strategic goals and partner sentiment. At a practice level, each team has a local practice group head that will work closely with their BD teams, representing the partners’ views on activities undertaken. As a firm, we have a direct strategy of building a market-leading Business Services team that directly supports the delivery of, and is in itself a core component of, the firm’s strategy. The Business Development and Marketing team reflects this. Over the last two years, we have built a global team with experience gained both onshore and offshore, in legal and professional services firms across both business development and marketing communications. This has put us in a strong position from which we are able to support and drive the growth of the business. When the BD&M activities are closely aligned, and feeding into, the firm’s overall strategy the partners can see clear benefits to empowering their BD&M experts.

LFMS: How is the law firm – client relationship changing?

Clients want lawyers who have a deep understanding of their businesses and sectors – this is why we are implementing a global sector strategy to pull specialists from different practice groups and provide clients with a more integrated service that feels seamless and personal/bespoke and provides genuine value – more than just good legal work, which just comes as a standard/given. Our thought leadership projects in the next few years will also reflect this as clients increasingly look to us as leaders in our field to keep them informed and updated on industry trends, as well as any legislative changes that might affect them or their businesses.

LFMS: What would be your single most important tip for winning at pitches?

Understanding the motivations of the people receiving the pitch. Try to ask as many questions around ‘needs’ as you can before submitting or presenting.

LFMS: What lessons should law firms be heeding from GCs and the approach they are now taking to buying legal services?

Law firms need to be engaging at all levels with client’s legal teams – not just through partners. There should be a team of people build bridges with procurement, accounts, compliance, etc. where possible.

LFMS: How do you see new tech helping law firm marketers and business development professionals meet their challenges?

Automating certain marketing functions is vital for efficiency but also allows us more insight into the measurable aspects of our work than we’ve ever had before. For example, as modern CRM systems continue to get more and more intelligent we are able to understand our clients, their needs and objectives better than ever before and equip our lawyers with this valuable information to make their client interactions more meaningful while taking up less of their time. This allows us to make smarter, more informed BD decisions and in turn reduce client attrition. On the marketing communications side, our team has embraced systems which allow them to identify and engage highly targeted and specific lists of journalists, relevant to our specific practice areas, as well as schedule press releases to be issued to those journalists on a 24hr basis. This is particularly useful for Mourant Ozannes, as a truly global offshore firm, because it allows us to distribute press releases to journalists around the world at times they’re most likely to read them and helps us transcend any potential time-zone issue. They also provide us with up-to-date profiles on those journalists and streams of their social media accounts, which means we can be certain that we’re sending our external comms to the right people. As competition increases, it’s a challenge for all firms not only to create interesting content that can cut through the noise but also to ensure that what we’re saying is reaching the right people.

LFMS: Looking at the agenda for the Law Firm Marketing Summit, which sessions are you most looking forward to?

It’s a tie between the leveraging technology session (as there is always something that you weren’t aware of that crops up from a tech perspective), and the pitching session. I have seen Rachel Hussey speak before and she is very engaging!

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