The business of developing the law firm’s market share, brand and competitive advantage are what top marketers have been undertaking for some time now.

The momentum of these efforts has been helped, in part, by lawyers reaching a deeper understanding (and realization) that the business of practicing law must be approached differently because the competition is ready, willing and waiting to step in.

But times have changed.  Long gone are the days where clients are forever loyal and lawyers can do it all.  Lawyers now need help with growing and maintaining their business.  They are, for the most part, not innate business developers; they are business doers.

7 Key Legal Marketing Trends

From both the micro and macro levels, we observed the top performers in the industry and compared them to the values our clients are asking for (and expecting) from their marketing hires.  Legal marketers should be savvy about following seven themes today to foster their personal success in the future

1. Measurability of profits is changing.

Profits are no longer based solely on billable hours, so helping to establish the costs of delivery and determining profit margins is seen as highly valuable.  But marketers cannot perform this function on their own.  It is imperative that you enlist other internal business service units to get the facts and figures you need to show profit margins and drive change to result in revenue increases.

2. The convergence of Marketing and IT.

Marketing is becoming more and more reliant on technology to capture and manage data on clients and prospects; unfortunately, exceptional cases of collaboration between the “creatives” in Marketing and”‘techies” in the IT department has been hit and miss, at best.  In our work we are seeing a progressive mandate by management in law firms for a close collaboration between these two departments.

For more information on this topic, see our Legal Business World article, The Essential Partnership: How IT and Marketing Can Drive Results Together

3. Business and competitive intelligence.

Closely aligned with the importance of partnering with IT to capture data on clients, gathering internally available data is equally as important.  Using this data to its fullest extent to analyze your client and knowledge base is key to properly understanding where your firm’s service gaps are, and then digging further to understand why there are gaps, and then deciding what course of action is needed.  Bolstering your staff with the right analytical talent to do this is a must for today’s legal marketing team.

4. Clients may know more than you do on costing legal services.

Sophisticated outside counsel use many different law firms to suit their business needs.  They know, for example, the latest trends on cost pressures, matter pricing, alternative fee arrangements and how third party legal service providers can perform certain tasks for lower costs than your firm.  They will use all of this information when you have a discussion on pricing.  Be ready and armed with the right information to have this discussion in an informed and savvy way.

5. The rise of the small firms and boutiques.

It is not unusual for a small group of ex-100 Am Law partners to break away and form a firm on their own terms.  These small firms often offer highly competitive rates, unique business solutions and creative, responsive services, which can be very attractive to a discerning client.  Some of the most interesting things we see are coming out of these types of firms.  Where there is hunger, there is opportunity.  And these little firms can (and do) give larger firms a run for their money.

6. The rise of corporate business models.

Law firms are being forced to step into line with the rest of corporate America with regard to their daily business practices. Increasingly, law firms are hiring trained experts to run internal business units, especially in marketing, HR, and operations.  They are enabling these professionals to develop best practices in governance, lead in planning and executing firm vision and goals, and create a firm culture that is mirrored externally and internally.  The days are running out for people to transition internally into a department head role by default.  Real qualifications and practical experience that shows results are what will trump a partner-backed candidate going forward.

7. Business development is remunerated.

Firms realize the importance of rewarding behavior.  As the importance of business development grows into the every day lives of lawyers, firms are compensating based on business development activities and consider these metrics during review time.  The people who provide their firms with quarterly and annual reviews of themselves and their team are those who regularly receive higher salary bumps and larger bonuses.   A lot of firms now see that a marketing team can actually pay for itself, and then some.  But it’s up to you to prove it.

8 Traits of Legal Marketing Revenue Enablers™

Understanding the dynamics of the business is key, but just as important are the various traits that law firms to value when they look for marketing hires.

As we looked at our most highly sought-after talent, we identified eight specific traits they have in common.  Legal marketing professionals who share these traits are true Revenue Enablers who bring measurable value to the firms that hire them.

1

Business Partners.

Today's Revenue Enablers are sophisticated and commercially aware business partners to their lawyers. They understand how law firms work, how they make money, and the challenges and pressure points that partnership environments face;
2

Relationship Builders.

The most successful legal marketers who truly put client service ahead of everything else. They quickly come up to speed on who the firm’s internal and external clients are and find ways to meet and exceed expectations.
3

Analytical Thinkers.

Far from being purveyors of brochures and organizers of events, today's Revenue Enablers understand how to translate complex data into themes with measurables, and will give this data meaning to lawyers to guide them on where to go to generate new revenue.
4

Innate Leaders.

Revenue Enablers display leadership capabilities early in their careers. They recognize that leadership takes practice and fine-tuning. They capitalize on and shape people on their team to become true value-add, visionary thinkers, and don’t hesitate to give credit where credit is due;
5

Bias Toward Action.

Revenue Enablers are masters at juggling the ability to provide both strategic input and tactical execution. While thinking strategically and leading the firm towards higher profitability is a must for marketers, our clients do not want someone who will rest on their laurels; they expect continuous activity, action and results. Period.
6

Invest in Themselves.

Revenue Enablers are focused on getting proper skills and career development training for themselves to stay fresh and current, which will ensure they don’t rest on their laurels and will provide a regular and fresh perspective to their firm;
7

People Managers.

Revenue Enablers are experts at managing up, down and sideways, on a regular and intentional basis. This helps manage expectations and keeps people engaged and working at their highest and best.;
8

Highly Collaborative.

Revenue Enablers know how to build and leverage internal relationships. They recognize the need for support from of all of the other professional departments in the firm to get their job done successfully. They are very smart about developing and nurturing strong alliances with internal business units - gone are the days of fiefdoms and internal competition

As firms continue to evolve we will, no doubt, see all of these topics morph with more specificity and at a higher level of sophistication.

The talent pipeline is rich and becoming more robust daily. Firms are expecting the highest quality of talent to deliver the highest quality of service to their lawyers.   Those who are successful at staying abreast of the current trends and who possess a holistic focus on getting strategic buy in, executing on plans and showing their results to management will rise to, and stay at, the top of the game.


Author Jennifer Johnson is CEO of Calibrate Legal.  A version of this article previously appeared in Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing.