Law firms are becoming increasingly complicated institutions. Whether the firm is acclimating from a recent merger or simply bolstering its infrastructure, coordinating the efforts of the lawyers, their administrative staff, and the marketing/BD professionals who support them is more challenging and more critical than ever.
Legal professionals (specifically those involved in business development and marketing) have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the firm's business objectives. After all, many of the the firm’s key clients are already the result of a carefully crafted proposal or the practical advice during a coaching session. Given the important role they play, how can a marketing or business development professional accelerate their impact? Here are 3 ways to go from “good” to “great.”
- Consider formal training. Programs like the the Business Development Institute exist because most marketing and BD staff never receive formal training on the art and science of legal business development. Lawyers use CLE to continually improve their legal expertise. BDI provides marketing and BD professionals with a similar resource.
- Provide evidence. Lawyers don’t respond to “good ideas” as much as they do empirical evidence. Use metrics and credible market studies to garner approval from attorneys when you pitch them on a new concept. Thinking of a new initiative? Take the time to present the pros, the cons, and the projected results. And quantify the ROI as much as possible.
- Don’t take things personally. If you're plan to be at the top of your game as a legal professional, develop a thick skin. Remember the lawyer who never responded to that important email you sent last week? There was likely no discourtesy intended. When lawyers are stressed out about a client’s needs, internal matters naturally get pushed down their list of priorities. If you're finding it hard to establish consistent communication, change your approach. Maybe the baby boomer partner will respond better to a phone call or a personal visit than an email or text. Ask each of your lawyers about their communication preferences: frequency, format, and time of day.
You may not hear it as often as you’d like, but remember that you play an integral role to the success of your firm. Seek out ways to increase the value you provide so that your contribution is held in higher regard by your lawyers.