What do in-house counsel look for? If you are a decent lawyer and have to ask, the general answer is “not you.”
Should I have a web site? Hey, you just got a beeper message—1998 called. Call me.
We should cross-sell. Why? The other practice group leader is only going to steal the origination credit.
Let’s do sophisticated associate development programs. Because for $165k a year, I’d hate to make you actually bill.
In the 30 years since Bates, law firms have come a long way in understanding that they need to market, and need to spend on marketing. Yet, attorneys remain frustrated as to how—relying on anyone who sounds the least bit knowledgeable to guide them.
The American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section strives to be ahead of the curve and above the fold on the issues and topics that most frustrate the practitioner—management, finance, technology and marketing. With that in mind, the first stand-alone Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference (November 8-9) in Washington, DC is created to advise and guide attorneys and law firm personnel in areas that are top of mind in the business development arena. With the most sophisticated and extensive all-lawyer faculty and a jam-packed day and a half program, this is the chance to return to your practice—be it 1,000 attorneys or solo—to updated and address the issues that you need to know for marketing tomorrow with greater effectiveness.
To preview the importance of each topic being discussed, we provide a “rule of thumb” to prepare you for the conference’s subject matter.
Ethics – In last month’s Law Practice Today, the important issues of not just marketing effectively, but ethically, were discussed. Designate an attorney responsible for overseeing all marketing, and complying with the rules in the states that are relevant to your firm.
Diversity – The concept of law firm diversity now is as significant in the marketing department as in recruiting. Be sure to understand the policies of the corporations you do business with—be it an institutional one, or a company you are pitching.
Media/Public Relations – While traditional law firm branding and advertising efforts rarely produce any real level of definable ROI, the same cannot be said for good PR. If your firm does not have an annual media relations plan, updated media contact list, and a tracking mechanism for “mentions”, you are probably not spending effectively.
Wasted Time, Wasted Spending – Speaking of spending, most of us could retire on the money that an AMLAW 200 firm burns in marketing each year. If a practice group cannot provide a plan and budget for an initiative, that money might as well go toward upgrading the top-shelf liquor at next year’s retreat.
Technology Marketing – There is a time and place for blog, podcasts and SEO. The question is whether your firm is the place, and you have the time.
Our 10x10 program —10 attorneys speaking on 10 topics for 10 minutes each examines 10 areas that are impacting law firm marketing plans today, and will continue to impact tomorrow. As if it is not enough to see 10 law firm partners limit his/her summations to 10 minutes or less—learn enough to figure out if these initiatives are beneficial to your strategic planning.
Conferences & Trade Shows – The days of “events” being limited to client breakfast briefings are over. Being a recognized business on the floor of major trade shows or on the dais of high-level conferences is a key element of visibility.
Industry-Focused Marketing – A long-term, grass roots approach to making inroads toward obtaining clients in a non-traditional industry (for law firms) is the way to carve new niches.
Pro Bono – Like diversity, your pro bono efforts are as much a way of showing your citizenship in the community or profession as donating cold hard cash. When firms really want to differentiate themselves, it is not from a corny “we are different” ad; it is from showing that you are about more than the billable hour.
Seminars – While it makes sense for some firms to buy their way onto roundtables and panels, others create their own programs and educational forums—controlling the audience and content—and truly being the experts.
Practice Group Marketing – The larger a firm gets, the more likely you need to drill down to a particular practice focus in creating a game plan and executing it. Assuming you can show that your plan has merit, a firm should allow you to do your own thing, so long as you balance that with a consistent message from the top.
Recruiting – The “message” to clients and prospective clients should be the same as to hires and potential hires. Recruiting is marketing…and marketing is recruiting. At some point, the two shall meet.
Associate Development – Building a book of business starts with the messages you instill on day one. And while rainmaking should be the furthest thing from the mind of a first-year, understanding the process is an education that begins at the beginning.
Law Firm Networks – Getting the most out of a law firm network relationship takes a strategy and plan, along with follow-up and dedication. Simply paying annual dues—in most instances—generally pay little dividend.
Client Surveys – For all the interviewing of attorneys at a firm to determine a message and brand, the people that really know what your message is, are your clients. The value of client survey data is one of the most significant research tools you can utilize in today’s market.
Alumni Relations – Almost every business relies on “the people you know” as a first line of referral business. Assuming people leave your firm with a pat on the back as opposed to a kick in the…the ability to retain relationships with lawyers that leave the firm is an area that many continue to leave untapped.
The bottom line lessons of the upcoming conference is to think and plan smarter, more effectively, and with a greater understanding of what firms are doing—both right and wrong—in today’s ever-changing legal landscape. While we cannot predict the future, we can certainly put you in a better position to both survive and thrive as the concept of marketing enters a more sophisticated decade…we hope.