Author of Death of a Law Firm
LFMS: 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?
Looking at the Legal Sector, I see three clear trends:
1. Commoditisation of legal services, leading to increasing pressure on price.
2. New competition in the market. In every market across the globe, we see new entrants in the market. This could be newly formed boutique law firms, international business law firms setting up or growing offices in many jurisdictions, the Big-4 building their legal services capabilities, Legal Tech like Legal Zoom or Rocket Lawyer, Legal Process Outsourcers, and so on. The market is increasingly more fragmented.
3. The adoption of technology and Artificial Intelligence by both Law Firms and Clients. All these developments put a big strain on BD and marketing departments. Remaining profitable in an increasingly competitive environment will require professional skill that goes well beyond putting together a pitch or handling submissions for legal guides. Business Intelligence and Metrics will become increasingly important, as will branding and positioning.
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?
Today a BD or marketing professional needs not only be highly qualified but also much more proactive and leading instead of reactive and focused on execution. It is more important than ever that BD and marketing understand exactly what the lawyers are doing and how that fits in with the clients’ demands. You really need to understand the business of law. At the same time partners should start to trust BD and marketing and understand that these have the essential complementary skills needed to remain successful.
LFMS: How is the law firm – client relationship changing?
Although the change is slow, ultimately clients will be in the driving seat for all but the most high-end matters. It will be a buyers’ market. This will be fundamentally different from the sellers’ market we have seen over the last five decades or so.
LFMS: What would be your single most important tip for winning at pitches?
Focus on what you will do for the client (how you will help solve the problem) rather than on the capabilities of the firm, the team, the rates and the applicable terms and conditions.
The pitch should start with ‘what we will do for you’ and this should be rather specific.
LFMS: What lessons should law firms be heeding from GCs and the approach they are now taking to buying legal services?
I think it is important to not only focus on GC’s but equally listen well to all your in-house clients as these are the people that keep your day to day relationship going. As a service provider law firms should try to make these people look good and happy by providing ready to use advice in a timely and well-managed manner at a competitive price.
LFMS: How do you see new tech helping law firm marketers and business development professionals meet their challenges?
New technology will increasingly help us be more efficient and also gain valuable insights. BD and marketing should familiarise themselves with technological developments and learn how to use and operate the tools available.
LFMS: Looking at the agenda for the Law Firm Marketing Summit, which sessions are you most looking forward to?
I have had the pleasure of being present at the 2016 event, and it kept me on the tip of my chair from the opening until the closing remarks. I expect the 2017 edition to be of equally great quality.