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  • May 25, 2023 3:27 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Ahead of his keynote presentation at this year’s RainDance Conference, Bob Wiesner, Managing Director - The Americas for The Artemis Partnership and author of "Winning is Better," a copy of which is included with each 2023 RainDance registration, spoke with LSSO’s Editorial Board Co-Chair Jill Zwetchkenbaum, Associate Business Development Manager for Mintz.

    Bob's keynote will focus on the importance of extending corporate relationships beyond the general counsel (GC), why conversations with the broader C-Suite matter now more than ever, why management consultancies have a strong advantage, and what your law firm can do to win trust, fend off the competition, and turn C-level conversations into opportunities for revenue growth.

    Jill: Why is your topic – C-Suite Conversations: Beyond the GC – such an important one for the legal industry?

    Bob:Today, there's more funding available for companies to hire outside law firms to advise on issues they may not be capable of handling in-house. So, there’s money to spend. And then mix that with the fact that the competition for legal services has never been fiercer. Advisory and accounting firms – from the ‘big four’ to the second and third tiers – continue to bulk up their capabilities to compete with law firms in several areas of client service, which only throws more chum in the water. These accounting and advisory firms have the ability to provide services that law firms would traditionally handle, including due diligence, aspects of transactions, contract and document drafting, and litigation and investigation support. Now more than ever law firms have to be especially sensitive to the importance of defending their current client base and leveraging today’s environment to retain, grow, and acquire business.

    Jill:Does the idea of ‘more money to spend’ and ‘more competition than ever before’ impact all law firms, no matter the size? What about industries? Practice areas?

    Bob: The business environment today presents a unique opportunity for firms of all sizes, industries, and practice areas. As markets get more and more competitive like they are today, in order to survive, firms must pivot or cast their business opportunity nets wider. Large law and advisory firms, who traditionally would only go for the ‘biggest fish,’ are now starting to target opportunities at a lower threshold than they would have before. Large firms may now consider clients or prospects who bring in, or could bring in, $500,000 or even $100,000 as equal priorities to the million-dollar clients or prospects. This muddies the water even further, as small to mid-size firms will start learning that big firms are suddenly interested in their client’s business.  

    So, while small and mid-size firms now must protect their clients more fiercely from the bigger firms pushing down into their competitive space, they also have an opportunity to push their way up into the larger spaces, if they are willing to make some adjustments in how – and where – they promote their value and how they communicate that value to a different group of decision makers. 

    Also, the GC and C-Suite are starting to care less about the brand name of their legal advisors, and more about who can help them solve the problem at hand.

    Jill: In your book “Winning Is Better” you talk a lot about relationships and that the key to winning pursuits is to cultivate strong relationships with decision-makers. What do strong relationships look like and how do they appear in practice in the legal industry and beyond? 

    Bob: The first thing to do is to decide if you want to build these relationships or not. I’ve advised senior partners across small, mid, and large professional service firms, and many of these partners have historically shown a reticence to talk to people like their client’s CEOs and CFOs, because, they say, “I don't know their business. I'm not an expert in what they do.” 

    Lawyers, in this case, must overcome that sentiment. While they may have expertise in their area of law, it must not limit them from initiating a business conversation with someone else in the C-Suite. In fact, it’s a critical access point today, to be able to share how a law or regulation impacts multiple areas of a business, and how to comply with the law or regulation to reduce risk. I assure you the C-Suite would love to hear their lawyers initiate a conversation like that, and they would be grateful for any help expanding their understanding of the challenges they face. Lawyers must be willing to drift out of their comfort zones and bring some perspective that can relate to the law but extends a bit beyond the law – such as practical business advice, given the law or regulation at hand – to start building these relationships with leaders other than the GC.

    In fact, if lawyers aren’t having these conversations with their clients, I can promise you that your competition is. For example, while non-lawyers – other professional service firms with whom clients work – can’t necessarily provide legal advice in the technical sense, they can – and do – identify key business issues for clients at a much lower cost…perhaps even over a beer…without the lawyer even involved, and therefore the law firm clock doesn’t even turn on to bill. More of this is continuing to happen, and I think everyone is feeling that right now. 

    Jill: Would you share a few examples of the types of conversations we should be engaging in with the C-Suite?

    Bob:I will talk in more detail about this at RainDance, but it’s incredibly important to be mindful of the questions you ask. They need to be unique and thoughtful. For example, they can’t be “What keeps you up at night?” or “What are your priorities?” Those are too general and, if you did your research, you’d already know the answers to both. Instead, add value by focusing the conversation on the lawyer’s unique observations given their experiences. Share what they’ve been seeing in the industry, how new developments in the law or in the business have impacted similar clients. Remember, we’re not necessarily expecting the lawyer to know the answer to the questions they are asking. Rather, it’s an honest inquiry into matters of interest, such as “Is XYZ important to you?” or “How has XYZ specifically impacted your organization?”

    What really matters, of course, is what you do with the answer. But you can’t get to that second step until you start engaging in conversations. 

    Jill: How have you seen the C-Suite evolve over the last decade?

    Bob:The C-Suite has always faced issues that required their lawyers to advise. But today, it’s more of a gray area. The issues the C-Suite faces are much more rooted in core business decisions that often have a legal aspect. The C-Suite is no longer as siloed as it once was, nor should it be. Successful companies HR, IT, Finance, and other business departments must involve the office of the GC in business decisions. In general, the C-Suite today has more influence over their GC’s business and law firm hiring decisions.

    And, by the same token, it should be going in both directions. GCs should be involving the C-Suite in everything they are doing as well. There is no benefit to being territorial and having your department be a mystery to everyone else.

    This concept also applies to client teams within law firms. So, let's recognize – and even embrace – the idea that even though you may be a real estate lawyer for ABC Company, you still have the right to inquire about matters involving the holistic success of that client, not just whether or not they should be subletting or selling a certain property.

    Jill: What do you hope RainDance attendees will take away from your keynote?

    Bob: Business professionals in the industry must recognize the importance of extending corporate relationships beyond the C-Suite and how – by not engaging – you are leaving money on the table.  

    I will be sharing specifics during the keynote, but, above all else, I want attendees to be willing to take action. Rather than going back to your desks and writing up revised business plans, I’d like attendees to feel like they have enough tools in their tool belts to immediately engage with the lawyers on these issues. It’s truly a win-win. That said, these won’t be easy conversations. You have to have a bit of courage to encourage many of the lawyers to take these steps. It may be easier for some, but not others, and I think that business development and marketing professionals can make it easier for them by providing prompts, materials, and information.

    At the end of the day – and all Raindance attendees likely have heard this before – if you're not continually taking steps to advance client relationships, you’re putting that very relationship at risk. My main concern now is that it may be even more at risk than it was years ago, because of the increase in non-law firms getting involved in matters that are not legal matters per se, but opportunities that may have been viewed years ago as in the exclusive purview of the law. No longer is this the case and we need to pay attention to that.

    Hear from Bob about the takeaways you can expect in his keynote!

    Register for RainDance TODAY >!

  • April 19, 2023 5:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    By Jeff Berardi, Partner, Baretz+Brunelle | LSSO Editorial Board Member

    I’m not going to sugarcoat it – being a law firm Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer (CMBDO) isn’t easy.  And things aren’t getting any less challenging as economic uncertainty prevails and the performance expectations of law firm leaders continue to grow.  When you examine the typical responsibilities that fall within the purview of the CMBDO position, you’ll notice that it is a lengthy list, and seemingly getting longer.  Heads of marketing often maintain oversight for internal/external communications, business development, client relations, digital marketing, brand/design, campaign management, and much more.  It’s no wonder that CMBDOs and legal marketing professionals have been experiencing record levels of pressure and stress in recent years.  However, I’m convinced that there are certain steps that CMBDOs can proactively take to heighten motivation and enhance enjoyment of this deeply rewarding role.

    As a former law firm executive, one of things that I appreciate most about my consulting practice is that I get to work with a substantial number of marketing/BD leaders who hail from a variety of different law firms.  No matter the size, practice focus, or geographic footprint, I’ve realized that there are shared challenges that many CMBDOs are wrestling with at the moment.  In this article, I identify three of the most common obstacles and provide some guidance and suggestions for how best to overcome these potential barriers to success: 

    1. Recruiting and retaining talent
    2. Allocating resources: time, energy, and priorities
    3. Aligning marketing/BD activities to drive results

    For each section, I have also included a checklist of questions for consideration.  There are no easy solutions, but the reality is that it’s sometimes easier to diagnose and treat the problem when you are viewing it from a completely objective and unbiased perspective. 

    Challenge #1: Recruiting and Retaining Talent

    Simply put, this is one of the biggest drains on the energy and level of focus of law firm marketing leaders – massive amounts of time are spent on efforts to recruit and retain marketing/BD team members.  Looking back over the last several years, there has been a great deal of churn in the industry, and it is more difficult than ever to keep gifted team members satisfied and protected from competitors who are looking to poach capable talent.  Although moderately high levels of turnover have always existed to some degree in the legal marketing/BD space, market dynamics related to COVID have exacerbated the situation.  Many firms are now experiencing a vicious cycle in which they resort to paying more to recruit talented professionals, only to find that they may have lost some of their current team members to a competitor who is employing the exact same tactics.  In an environment where many law firm marketers don’t expect to stay at the same firm for more than a few years, the net effect is that it can create a lot of tension within the organization and can have an adverse impact on law firm culture to have people come and go so frequently.

    So, what can law firm CMBDOs do about this challenge?  For starters, there is a lot of research that indicates that professionals who experience a greater sense of purpose in their roles are more likely to stay in their positions.  To that end, I recommend supporting initiatives that help to cultivate that shared sense of purpose, such as involving people more frequently in projects, and clearly communicating goals and objectives as well as some context for how individuals fit into the big picture – all which can go a long way toward improving motivation and reducing turnover.  It requires a dedicated effort, however, to encourage more junior team members to learn about the role that they play in the strategic vision of the department or the firm.  The wonderful thing about this solution is that it often doesn’t require a major investment from the firm to accomplish this goal. 

    Another suggestion is to ask employees for their honest feedback on what they like or don’t like about their respective roles.  I recommend using an anonymous survey to collect this information, so that team members can voice their true opinions without fear of retaliation from managers or supervisors.  A recent article in notes the benefits of obtaining feedback and offers other ideas for consideration.  On a separate but related note, training and professional development opportunities are an excellent way to demonstrate that you care about the growth and well-being of team members at various levels within the organization.  This need not be limited to marketing, sales, and service members.  For instance, business development workshops designed to assist partners or associates with growing client relationships can serve a dual purpose by also giving marketing/BD team members a viable framework to use for their ongoing coaching and support. 

    Key questions to ask:

    • Does the department have a clear and well-defined strategic vision for the department that is connected to broader firm goals?
    • Do team members understand and embrace a sense of purpose?
    • What training and professional development opportunities is the firm providing – and – is it enough to keep team members motivated and “sticky” within the organization?

    Challenge #2: Allocating Resources – Time, Energy, and Priorities

    Another longtime challenge for law firms is that they frequently find themselves juggling limited business development and client growth resources who are expected to support a multitude of offices, practice groups, and industries/sectors.  Striking the appropriate balance between these competing demands is imperative.  One of the issues is that many law firms are structurally organized by practice groups or office locations; conversely, most clients self-identify by industries or sectors. This dynamic creates a bit of a mismatch between how the law firm is internally structured and how they should be positioning their services as part of an external client-facing go-to-market strategy.  It also creates a management dilemma – if the firm’s P&L exists at the practice level, how will industry groups be led, supported by marketing/BD, and properly evaluated so that there is the proper level of oversight and accountability for these important initiatives?

    The firms that are getting this right have been able to fund, design, and advance multi-practice and multi-disciplinary campaigns that are focused on key industries and sectors.  If executed well, these efforts pinpoint issues and challenges that clients and prospects care deeply about, featuring topics and trends that have the potential to affect businesses across an entire sector.  Another reliable method is to develop content intended for narrow target audiences within sub-practice groups (think Fintech, Renewable Energy, Data Privacy, etc.).  If firms are overly broad in their approach to thought leadership, they may discover that clients consider the content to be rudimentary and are less likely to engage.

    Before you can devise and execute such campaigns, you need to ensure that you are effectively integrating activities across the client service, BD, and sales functions.  In addition, you need to be able to contend with partners who expect (or demand) support for practice-driven requests, which can frequently be administrative rather than strategic in nature.  A major area of focus should be to prioritize department activities by defining which efforts are high in value and return, and which are of lower benefit to the firm and should be modified or perhaps even removed from the equation entirely.  This can be done by scoring each project on a scale of 1 – 10 for its impact on the business and then rescoring based on each project’s relative ease of implementation.  Another important factor is to make sure that you educate the firm’s internal clients (its lawyers) about a potential shift to a more client-centric approach.  Developing and conveying a robust internal communications strategy is a critical element to ensure that you achieve management support for any changes to the traditional service delivery model.

    Key questions to ask:

    • Have you achieved full alignment between your marketing, business development, and client-facing (sales) activities to ensure that all functions are operating in a collaborative way?
    • Are you prioritizing high-value activities and finding ways to reduce the time the marketing/BD team spends on lower-value (often administrative) efforts?
    • Have you properly communicated with your lawyers that a shift is being made to support more industry go-to-market efforts (and why that’s important), and the impact that might have upon individuals or practice areas that may have traditionally been supported to a greater degree?

    Challenge #3: Aligning Marketing/BD Activities to Drive Results

    The age-old question of how to demonstrate ROI is perhaps the most difficult nut for law firm CMBDOs to crack.  In other words, how can law firms more clearly tie their marketing/BD efforts to revenue growth?  It sounds remarkably simple, but ROI is often very difficult to track, measure, and prove.  Still, the better and more equipped CMBDOs have made solid progress on this front, and we should take note of what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.  For starters, those that have been successful have often invested in building or buying new technology tools that enable marketing team members to connect BD activities to new matters opened, track the effectiveness of marketing/BD/sales campaigns, and report upon the overall contribution and value of a department, function, or client team.  In addition, the most capable CMBDOs are successfully using digital marketing strategies to their full potential.  They are tracking and measuring their progress – such as by generating and managing leads, through enhanced email automation and targeted paid social media campaigns – and they are actively reporting to firm management their impact and overall results. 

    Are you worried that this is too heavy of a lift?  If so, here are a few simple things you can do to get started.  Begin by capturing all expenses that go into a dedicated marketing and BD campaign.  This includes any costs to develop thought leadership, sponsorships, events, travel for lawyers/BD professionals, etc.  From there, you need to make sure that you determine if any new matters are opened as a direct result of this campaign.  This entails connecting new matters to activities related to the campaign initiative.  In some cases, you may wish to assign a grading system that asks lawyers to rank the influence that the campaign had on landing the matter – is it 75%, 50%, 25%?  Once that percentage is assigned, it’s a relatively simple calculation to establish the overall campaign value from the new revenue that was generated.  Importantly, you will want to deduct the costs from the new revenue to show net impact.  Keep in mind that it isn’t solely about revenue growth – the impact might be measured by other factors as well such as increased awareness, greater client engagement, an uptick in proposals or meetings, etc.  But the number that firm management will most care about is undoubtedly going to be new revenue, so be sure to track and measure that wherever possible.

    On the sales front, there has been a lot of discussion over the past decade about whether firms should create a client-facing sales team made up of business executives.  Although it may be true that there are a greater number of business professionals who have client-facing roles, the expansive sales teams that we’ve heard about in recent years have not come to fruition. The firms that have gained traction often employ sales teams that are small, nimble, and focused, usually consisting of just a few people who are exclusively devoted to generating leads and driving new business opportunities.  Nevertheless, lots of firms continue to be curious about whether they should launch a client-facing sales team.  It has been encouraging to see that more marketing/BD roles have opportunities for direct interaction with the firm’s external clients, but we still have a long way to go on this front.  Regardless of the exact nature of the role, I have long believed that business professionals can add value to the client relationship in a variety of ways

    Key questions to ask:

    • Is the team directly connecting revenue generated through marketing/BD? 
    • Is the team tracking new matters opened with corresponding financial data?
    • Does the team have a clearly defined digital marketing blueprint for the next 1-3 years?
    • Knowing your firm and attorneys, what are the benefits of having a client-facing sales team?
    • Does it fit with the culture of the firm, and will you be able to find the right people for the role?

    The Bottom Line

    Law firm CMBDOs are frequently confronted with challenges that can distract from strategic priorities and get in the way of making progress.  Common struggles include retaining and motivating team members, determining the right balance of support between practice and industry initiatives, and demonstrating ROI for firm management or other key stakeholders.  Have the staffing-related ups and downs of the past few years have had a damaging effect on marketing team members?  If so, offer more purpose and training opportunities.  Are you straining to adequately support practices, regions, and industries?  Prioritize key industry groups and educate internally about the shift to a more client-centric approach.  Having a hard time measuring ROI or defining the contribution of your team?  Build or buy technology tools that more clearly connect financial data and new matters opened to marketing activities.

    In closing, I want to convey to my clients and friends – you are not alone.  Having spent 13 years as the CMO of a global law firm, I understand that it can feel a bit lonely in this role.  That said, it’s important to realize that others are in a similar boat.  By asking the right questions and by making some small modifications to your approach, you can overcome these common challenges and reduce the inevitable stress that accompanies the law firm CMBDO role.

  • April 19, 2023 5:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    By Adam Severson, Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer, Baker Donelson | LSSO Editorial Board Member

    The notion of being "crazy busy" is an awkward, unnecessary badge of honor in the legal industry. But it's unavoidable. There are so many competing demands, between RFPs and pitch prep, client events, credentialing submissions, press releases, client teams, client feedback interviews, firm strategy, practice group strategy… and the list goes on. Each of these growth drivers has a meeting, the meeting before the meeting, or series of monthly or quarterly meetings tied to it. And each has a variety of pieces and parts given the high volume associated with virtually any large law firm – 80+ RFP submissions, 100+ client events, 75+ press releases, 65+ credentialing submissions, 30+ client teams, 40+ client feedback interviews in the queue, etc.

    Individually, each of these tasks is doable. Collectively, they are also doable, but daunting. Executing well on all the things, all the time requires a high functioning and motivated team. I'm so incredibly fortunate to have such a team at my firm, Baker Donelson. However, even the best teams need to refuel from time to time. Each year, I host a Marketing & Business Development Team Retreat. I use the word "retreat" loosely as it's a jammed packed agenda of ways we can move the firm forward, but it also includes ample time to enjoy one another's company and have some fun! I create a hashtag to serve as the theme for the program every year, with prior themes including #teamworkmakesthedreamwork, #workhardplayhard, and #sharingiscaring. I knew this year's theme had to address the elephant in the room: burnout.

    I knew people were exhausted. While the saying goes, "it's a marathon, not a sprint," lately it has been feeling more like a sprinting marathon. It's important to listen to your colleagues as burnout can present itself in several ways.

    I knew we needed to discuss these concerns openly and provide realistic ways to help people calibrate and feel more like they were in control. A good friend in a similar marketing leadership role connected me with Annick D'Pierre, senior director of account management at The Energy Project, which works with organizations to improve employee well-being, fuel engagement, and drive productivity.

    I talked to Annick about what I was hearing, how I wanted to support my team, and whether her group could help. My concerns weren't new to Annick or The Energy Project, and I quickly gained a comfort level with her approach to problem solving and the way we could engage the team in a meaningful way.

    The Energy Project looks at four dimensions of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. During our retreat each person did an Energy Audit that asked a series of questions in each of these areas. This exercise shined a light on the issue (which I already knew was there), which then allowed us to work on a path forward. Our facilitator, Dr. Thurman Webb, masterfully discussed the behaviors that undermine our productivity and satisfaction as well as why we let them persist.

    "This discussion frequently lets people know that they are in the driver's seat and empowers them to influence how they show up in all aspects of their lives," Annick said. A key element of the path forward is thinking about renewal (an intentional practice to refuel your energy), how you prioritize it, and the different types and timeframes of renewal from which you can benefit. We often spend our days expending energy on our continuous list of demands, without considering that the more intense the performance demand, the greater the need to regularly renew. The most sustainable formula consists of balancing energy out with energy in. My colleagues and I left that afternoon feeling more self-aware, empowered, and energized.

    The theme was ultimately #bestversionofme. The workshop described above was the focal point of our time together. We also had each team member describe their own "Best Thing" from the prior year (personal or professional). One unintended benefit of these shared stories was that the process allowed folks to shine a light on a colleague or brag on something the team had accomplished. In nearly every circumstance, the thing wasn't easy; it was multi-faceted and challenging, which speaks to the drive of the group.

    Following the retreat, I've noticed many team members being more intentional about their renewal time. In fact, I calendared renewal time for everyone to make sure we were "forced" to deliberately address renewal. With the team retreat in the rearview mirror, we're running fast again and juggling a long list of demands, but there's a greater sense of calm. I'm thankful to have listened and to have engaged The Energy Project,, and am continually looking for opportunities to find renewal. You should make a concerted effort to do so too.

  • April 19, 2023 5:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    By David Ackert, MA, CEO and Founder, PipelinePlus | Founding Member, LSSO SSSME BoardDonna Fulmer, Director of Marketing, PipelinePlus

    2023 brings many of the same challenges that law firms faced in 2022, like ever-changing hybrid work arrangements and talent shortages. Added to the mix are three exacerbating factors: a decrease in client demand driven by an uncertain economic forecast, the ever-increasing array of technologies vying for market share, and the usual reticence to engage seriously in any endeavor that may come across as “salesey.”

    In the wake of these challenges, law firms must find ways to motivate busy, client-focused lawyers to manage their sales pipelines consistently and effectively. In the 2023 State of CRM industry report, we explore the perspective of marketing/business development (BD) professionals from more than 70 US firms as they seek to navigate these business development headwinds.

    At the core of our annual research is finding out whether CRM is effective for law firms, especially when it comes to business development. We view CRM as one of the byproducts of a law firm’s business development maturity and its willingness to put effective technology, systems, and operational structures in place to optimize its sales function.

    Our research shows that more than 80% of law firms have a CRM solution, but only 20% rate their CRM as “effective” across critical marketing/BD functions, and just slightly fewer rate their CRM as “moderately effective.”

    It’s interesting to note that comparing responses by firm types (law, accounting, financial advisory, consulting, and engineering) in our 2023 State of CRM in Professional Services Firms industry study, law firms rank CRM the lowest in terms of effectiveness in multiple marketing/BD functions. 

    Of course, for CRM to be highly effective for BD at law firms, it must be consistently utilized by lawyers to manage their pipelines. This year’s results reveal that fewer than 4 out of 10 lawyers at firms use CRM at all, and of them, only slightly more than one-quarter use it regularly for sales pipeline management. 

    So, what are lawyers’ main challenges regarding CRM adoption? 

    1. Lack of time
    2. No requirement to use it
    3. High level of data entry
    4. Lawyers’ lack of understanding/care about CRM’s value to the firm

    It is notable that a significant percentage of professionals from law firms cite lawyers not being required to use CRM as a key factor contributing to low adoption. 

    An additional adoption challenge is a lack of technology integrations. In the words of one of our marketing/BD professional respondents, “We are seven years into our CRM with little to no integration improvements. We’ll likely be searching for a more integrated tool in the near future that will hopefully address our issues.” 

    Whether they use CRM for sales pipeline management or not, lawyers must somehow manage their BD efforts. This year’s research shows that more than four out of 10 lawyers still use Excel spreadsheets, paper notes, and Outlook reminders for sales pipeline management. The fact that these disconnected, old-school methods are preferable to CRM demonstrates that firms have a long way to go to help lawyers understand how using a Customer Relationship Management tool benefits its lawyers. 

    In our 20+ years of experience introducing BD technology into law firms, we’ve found that if leadership does not play a role in driving adoption, lawyers will not use it of their own accord. Delving a little deeper into the issue of accountability, we asked firms to identify the level of accountability lawyers are held to for using CRM. 

    To us, it was not surprising to learn that lack of accountability for using CRM is a top challenge by three out of 10 firms, yet marketing/BD professionals claim that lawyers are held to little or no accountability at nearly two-thirds of law firms. While most law firm leaders would agree that an organized, synchronized approach to business development is important, few are willing to use their social capital to introduce accountability measures that would improve lawyer CRM user adoption. 

    Turning to what law firms do to provide to support CRM implementation and who provides it, respondents reveal that the most significant percentage of firms use initial training/onboarding services by their CRM provider, and the second largest percentage use either ongoing training or user adoption initiatives provided by internal marketing/BD teams. 

    But adoption efforts don’t end after CRM implementation. The survey asked what tools and initiatives BD/marketing professionals use to increase user adoption. The top three tools and initiatives firms use to boost lawyers’ CRM adoption are: 

    1. Marketing/BD professionals updating their CRM on behalf of lawyers
    2. BD coaching by internal coaches
    3. Regular encouragement from the marketing/BD team

    The CRM user adoption tool or initiative the smallest percentage of firms uses is gamification/contests for lawyers. 

    Despite the low percentage of lawyers who use CRM for sales pipeline management, we wanted to know what level of ROI marketing/BD professionals get from the CRM. 

    Overall, marketing/BD professionals at more than four out of 10 law firms report that CRM delivers little ROI to their firms. The second highest percentage of firms say their CRM delivers no ROI. 

    Since over 80% of law firms have CRM, it is clearly deemed a valuable technology, so it’s important to analyze firms that report little to no ROI versus those that report a medium to high level of ROI. The data reveals several key differences. Firms that report medium to high ROI are:

    • Three times more likely to spend $75-500K per year on CRM
    • Four times more likely to use CRM adoption initiatives
    • Three times more likely to hold seller-doers to a high level of accountability for CRM use
    • 60% more likely to use internal or external BD coaching

    Finally, we asked law firm marketing/BD professionals to identify their biggest BD challenge. 

    According to responses, the biggest BD challenge is that lawyers don’t prioritize business development enough. The second and third most cited challenges are the lack of a strong BD culture at their firms and lawyers lacking the coaching they need to be effective and to hold them accountable.

    In a year when client demand is relatively low, it is even more critical that lawyers have the skills and technology needed for business development success. For marketing/BD professionals, aptly arming lawyers in 2023 poses a particularly tough challenge. Tighter budgets mean smaller investments in the resources that yield better ROI, namely sophisticated BD platforms, adoption initiatives, and external coaches that can help drive new lawyer behaviors.

    For our full CRM report, click HERE.

    And be sure to attend LSSO's 2023 RainDance Pre-Conference, where David and his team will be leading an interactive program for firms interested in revenue growth initiatives.

    About the Authors

    David Ackert, MA, is the CEO and Founder of PipelinePlus, a highly regarded thought leader and business development pioneer in the legal industry.

    Donna Fulmer is the Director of Marketing at PipelinePlus, with +20 years of experience in professional services marketing and public relations.

  • April 19, 2023 5:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    By Gemma Prescott, Practice Group Leader - Marketing and Business Development, IntappFounding Member, LSSO SSSME Board

    Law firms are now sophisticated at providing, and reporting on, those “value-add” services – CLE programs or knowledge management consultancy perhaps – offered in addition to their core legal advice. These help to deepen relationships, with both parties benefiting from the ensuing transfer of knowledge. Fewer firms consistently show the same rigor in precisely articulating the value that will be delivered on matter, however.

    Traditionally, this value might have felt implied: at the outset both client and lawyer share a sense of the problem (an investigation) or objective (a commercial agreement) and so the “why” is clear enough. But two trends present an occasion for lawyers to sharpen the articulation of their unique value, emulating other industries.

    1. The evolution in legal service delivery models and expansion into new service areas – risk or legal operations consulting as an example – which continues apace. With this transition comes a new competitor set [the Big 4, Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs), technology vendors], perhaps more practiced in articulating value or business cases, given their heritage with long-term transformation projects where an ability to explore specific pain points, and demonstrate a value against relieving those, may unlock budget and ultimately project approval. Certainly, since moving from the legal to technology sector I have witnessed first-hand the benefits provided by specialist value engineers, professionals who work with our clients to articulate a measurable case for change. 
    2. A continued demand from corporate legal departments (CLD) for Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs) instead of pricing based on time-inputs (hours-recorded), where lawyers are less challenged to unpack more precisely the outcomes or value of their service. Value-Based AFAs, although demanding a rigor of discussion regarding relevant outcomes and data robust enough to support their measurement, which means they are found less commonly than Time-Based AFAs, are attractive in more tightly aligning law firm service with longer-term organizational goals.  

    Finding Value in the Why and the How

    Increasing pricing sophistication and flexibility is not the only benefit of asking deeper discovery questions. Exploring the themes below to help unpick business value (the why) with a prospect will also likely produce a much richer picture of the stakeholders involved – and their personal drivers and pain points – than can be inferred from an RFP or RFI document.

    • Strategy enablement – Understanding the importance of a joint venture in enabling new market access.
    • Risk & compliance – Embedding a new compliance program to mitigate risks arising from changing business practices.
    • Measurable benefits – Increasing the speed of contacting through automation.
    • Innovation – Enabling broader transformative change deemed to be strategically important, such as accepting bitcoin.

    The unique value in a firm’s proposition can often be found in how advice will be provided – perhaps responding to specific CLD pain points unearthed through the conversation(s) above. The broadening of service teams to include additional disciplines such as project managers, legal technologists, etc. provides an important means of differentiation over and above the potential to reduce (expensive) senior lawyer hours.

    The goal here will be to ensure pursuit teams articulate this broader value. To provide two examples:

    • Painting a picture of how including project managers or process improvement specialists in the team means that post matter the client will gain a clearly documented process or playbook that their team can use going forwards, and a more repeatable, optimized process that could be followed by more junior resource, or outsourced, within clearly defined risk parameters, saving costs in the longer-term.  
    • Or, from a legaltech perspective, having applied document review tools to help interrogate a population of contracts to resolve a specific question – exposure to force majeure clauses in supply chain contracts during the Covid-19 pandemic, for example – positioning the longer-term benefit of how having structured data points about their contracts available will enable future analysis more quickly.

    The benefits of a more tightly agreed value case are likely to sustain past selection. A more comprehensive encapsulation of the longer-term value provided may also extend the period of gratitude experienced by a client, before the decline described in Foonberg’s Gratitude Curve sets in, with invoice or service-related queries then increasing. And during the matter this clarity will ensure newer team members quickly understand their client’s longer-term drivers and the role they play in achieving those, improving service. 

    Evidencing the Value of Your Experience

    Presenting outcomes in this way will help to preserve the perceived value in a team’s service (and so protect a firm’s price point) even if overall costs (time-inputs) have been reduced. This conundrum of proving value when experience or service models allow a lawyer to provide advice quickly is neatly captured in the story told about an impromptu portrait-sitter complaining about the price asked by Picasso for a quickly produced sketch. Though delighted with the result, she challenged the cost given he produced it in minutes. He is said to have replied: “No, madam, it took me my whole life.”

    The intangible nature of experience or market insights and the value they afford a client, perhaps in helping to achieve a more efficient negotiation and so quicker market access for the joint venture identified above, can be a challenge, especially when a client is deciding to trust their business to a lawyer for the first time and so hasn’t experienced (and valued) their insights on previous matters.  

    Traditionally firms have relied on providing lengthy credentials lists as a proxy. But as firms adopt more advanced data strategies, lawyers will be able to play back to clients a more compelling analysis of how they have seen similar matters unfold given the counterparties involved, detailing market practice and expected negotiation outcomes.

    For examples of the ways in which data-savvy private capital firms leverage deal data, with legal advisors increasingly interested in emulating their investor counterparts, this recent LSSO webinar – Drive Your Law Firm’s Business Development Like a Private Equity Firm presented by Intapp (2023 Feb 22) – may be of interest.

    As CMOs continue to invest in more advanced skills development and new roles to give their teams the edge, value-engineering ought to move up the agenda.

    Gemma Prescott is the Practice Group Leader for Marketing and Business Development at Intapp. Prior to joining Intapp, Prescott was Head of Business Development at the multi-national law firm Allen & Overy, initially for the Global Litigation practice and then for the Advanced Delivery and Solutions practice, which consisted of legal technology, consulting, and alternative resourcing.

  • March 22, 2023 2:20 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Heather Morse, Chief Business Development Officer, McGlinchey Stafford
    Bio | LinkedIn | Twitter
    Nancy Myrland, President, Myrland Marketing & Social Media
    Bio | LinkedIn | Twitter

    It’s here. The AI that could read and analyze can now analyze and write. So, what is ChatGPT and how can legal marketing and business development professionals utilize it? We asked ChatGPT exactly that.

    What exactly is ChatGPT?

    ChatGPT Answer:
    ChatGPT is a cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology that uses machine learning (ML) to generate natural language responses to user input. At its core, ChatGPT is built on top of the powerful GPT (Generative Pretrained Transformer) architecture, which has been trained on a massive corpus of text data. This training data includes everything from books and articles to social media posts and conversations, providing the model with a broad range of knowledge and context to draw upon. When a user inputs a message or question, ChatGPT processes that text and generates a response using its knowledge of language and context. The model's response is generated based on a number of factors, including the user's previous messages, the topic of conversation, and the overall style and tone of the conversation. One of the key benefits of ChatGPT is its ability to learn from previous interactions with users. The model's training data is constantly updated with new examples of human language use, allowing it to improve.

    How can ChatGPT be used by the legal marketing and business development community?

    ChatGPT Answer:
    As a large language model trained by OpenAI, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the legal marketing and business development community in a multitude of functions:

    • Content Creation. One of the most significant benefits of ChatGPT for legal marketing is its ability to generate high-quality content. With its advanced language processing capabilities, ChatGPT can create blog posts, website copy, social media posts, RFP responses, and other types of content with ease and within seconds (and grammatically correct!).
    • SEO Optimization. ChatGPT can also be used to optimize a law firm's website for search engine rankings. By analyzing search engine data and understanding the latest trends in SEO, ChatGPT can provide recommendations on how to optimize a law firm's website for search engine rankings. This can include optimizing keywords, creating backlinks, and improving website structure.
    • Market Research. ChatGPT can be used to conduct market research for law firms. By analyzing data from social media, online reviews, and other sources, ChatGPT can provide insights into the needs and preferences of the law firm's target audience. This information can be used to develop marketing strategies that are tailored to the needs of the target audience.
    • Predictive Analytics. ChatGPT can be used for predictive analytics, which can help law firms anticipate future trends in the legal industry. By analyzing data from a variety of sources, ChatGPT can predict changes in the legal landscape and help law firms prepare for them. This can include changes in legislation, emerging trends, and other factors that could impact the legal industry.

    How does a legal marketer explain ChatGPT to a lawyer?

    ChatGPT Answer:
    Legal marketing professionals can explain ChatGPT to lawyers as a tool that utilizes artificial intelligence and natural language processing to assist with various tasks, such as drafting legal documents, conducting legal research, and analyzing data. ChatGPT, or chatbot technology, can be thought of as a virtual assistant that can communicate with users in a natural, conversational tone. Lawyers can interact with the ChatGPT system by asking questions or making requests, and the technology will provide responses or take actions based on the input it receives. Additionally, ChatGPT can help lawyers streamline their workflow and increase productivity. For instance, the technology can be used to draft routine legal documents, such as contracts or pleadings, by analyzing similar documents and using machine learning algorithms to generate custom drafts based on specific inputs.

    If we can convey nothing else, at this point in time, ChatGPT provides a great starting point in creating material but should not be used or trusted as final content, particularly in the legal profession. In writing this article, the responses to our questions were often circular and repetitive, requiring editing, but nonetheless saved us hours in researching and preparing a first draft.

    As time goes by, this will change as ChatGPT continues to become smarter and more like "us" as we train it in the way “we” think as an industry as well as individuals. But just like all things technology, there is more coming.

    Not to be left out, Google and Microsoft are developing their own AI-driven natural language processing tools—Google Bard and Edge GPT—both of which have the potential to be smarter alternatives to ChatGPT as they are tied into the search engines.

    In conclusion, ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for legal marketers looking to streamline their workflows, generate new ideas, and engage with audiences more effectively. By leveraging the power of AI, legal marketers can create more compelling content, reach a wider audience, and ultimately drive more business for their firms.

  • January 26, 2023 9:44 AM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: Silvia Coulter, Principal, LawVision | LSSO Co-Founder & Advisory Board Co-Chair

    Not too long ago, I was speaking with a legal salesperson who told me their law firm opened an office in a new U.S. jurisdiction and there was profound angst as to whether the firm would be able to attract quality talent as well as significant clients.

    Six months later, that angst was gone. In fact, the new office had quickly secured millions of dollars in new business.

    How did this happen?

    Three key factors contributed greatly to these results.

    Key Factor No. 1: The firm had a seasoned salesperson who knew not only how to get in a client’s door but also how to ask for business. Coached—and often accompanied—by this sales professional, firm partners enjoyed a higher rate of securing meetings with prospective clients and in securing new business. Sales knowledge is critical to effectively compete today. Firms with leadership who embrace hiring a client-facing salesperson are reaping the benefits (aka your clients).

    Key Factor No. 2: Despite the drumbeat heard during numerous in-house counsel panels and in numerous industry thought leadership articles and in advice proven out time and again from experienced consultants, many law firm partners stay in their comfort zone and don’t reach out to nurture client relationships. This is particularly true for clients with whom lawyers have no active mandates. Again and again, clients volunteer feedback that partners do not proactively visit them, do not ask or know about their strategic priorities, and do not anticipate their legal needs. If a firm isn’t regularly engaged in meaningful dialogue with their clients—more than just post-matter/once-a-year surveys—then the door is wide open for competitors to nab the next matter or the entire client relationship, no matter the tenure of the legacy firm. Attention builds relationships and relationships get business. It’s that simple.

    Key Factor No. 3: Connection is critical. No, it’s not easy to actively engage with a large group of contacts and clients on a regular basis. But developing a strategic approach—experts say a good rule of thumb is 50 individuals per quarter—can help make the task less daunting while also exponentially increasing the odds of winning new clients and/or new business from current clients. This is particularly true during economic downturns when many people go into self-preservation mode and forget to reach out to contacts and clients who are also experiencing a difficult time. Relationships matter. Firms that don’t encourage and support partners in dedicated outreach efforts are warming up their clients for their competitors.

    A recent article reminded us “studies suggest that, depending on the industry you are in, acquiring a new customer can cost five to seven times more than retaining an old one.” Yet, I am constantly amazed at the opportunities lost by incumbent firms when there are relatively simple solutions to competitor-proofing client relationships.

    Savvy—successful—firms will be the ones to employ these straight-forward key factors.

    Silvia L. Coulter chairs the firm’s Client Development & Growth Practice.  Silvia’s clients rely on her strategic account/key client expertise to help them retain and grow existing clients and to develop new business.  She may be reached at

  • December 15, 2022 12:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Authored by David G. Kamien, CEO & Founder, Mind-Alliance & SSSME Founding Board Member*

    BD is a team sport. But for many law firms, the complexity of BD, marketing, and competitive intelligence (CI) efforts, combined with the division of labor between teams, leads to communication and coordination issues. It has become more difficult to coordinate the responses of different parts of the firm to business and legal environment developments. And the results can be damaging: slow and poor responses cause firms to miss out on winnable revenue growth opportunities.

    Clearly, better integration, coordination, and synchronization of teams across the firm’s various departments and groups are critical. It’s time for firms to harmonize cross-team business processes to spot cross-selling and new client opportunities earlier, win a higher percentage of requests for proposals, and conduct more intelligent BD targeting and annual planning.

    BD and marketing leaders from several leading law firms are now committed to synchronizing the BD, marketing, research, and practice groups as well as the industry teams they support. Their goal is to better orchestrate several processes, including:

    • Annual/quarterly BD planning
    • Strategic account marketing
    • Current awareness monitoring
    • Competitive intelligence profiling
    • Client alert writing
    • Spotting BD opportunities
    • Responding to RFPs

    In 2023, some of these leaders will launch a cross-functional BD Coordination Working Group to orchestrate processes, harmonize data definitions, and integrate systems to make BD a well-orchestrated, socio-technical system.

    The Group will start by studying the current state of BD-related processes, and analyzing issues relating to data, information sharing, collaboration, knowledge management, and learning. The leaders will examine how work and information need to flow better to achieve results more efficiently. They will catalog who monitors which regulatory change events, and who produces client alerts and BD opportunity alerts for partners. They will assess whether partners have shared situation awareness and understanding of external events and internal client-related activities. And they will study how and when CI reports, target lists, and profiles are produced, as well as whether business intelligence dashboards, CI profiles, and automated alerts are helpful.

    In addition, they will add a core innovation — documented plays in a shared playbook — to their current capability set. The playbook will govern the response of each cross-functional team to events and specify the communication and information handoffs between groups to synchronize efforts. These plays will ensure that all those involved understand how their roles, goals, tasks, decisions, and information needs are interrelated.

    Graphic summaries such as information sharing plans, program evaluation review technique (PERT) diagrams, and Gantt charts can help integrate each team’s plans and procedures. Teams will gain a deeper understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities, and managers will be able to connect the dots across functions and improve coordination to impact overall results positively.

    At the same time, new employees will quickly become productive rather than spend several months understanding the organization’s information sharing wiring diagram only to take the knowledge with them when they leave.

    Helping marketing, BD and research teams interact in an event-driven way will lead to faster and better decisions and far more efficient production of valuable knowledge. Firms that continue to coordinate work via email will be at a competitive disadvantage in 2023.

    Mind-Alliance is well-positioned to help law firms synchronize and coordinate BD processes. For 17 years, we’ve used our patented system to map out the flow of information between organizations. Our method models the tasks of members and the information they need to receive and send, identifies issues, and recommends improvements. Several leading law firms are leveraging our MindPeer platform to compile client-profile CI reports in seconds with data from internal and external sources. It’s going to be a great 2023 for some smart BD leaders!

    Download this post as a file

    Members: Log in for Mind-Alliance's recent whitepaper MindPeer: Power Business Development Results with Collaborative Intelligence Software under Industry Resources

    *LSSO is privileged to have access to – and be supported by – numerous legal sales and service subject matter experts (SSSMEs). As a benefit to our members and the legal community at large, we have invited several of these industry-leading professionals to band together as a SSSME Board, which will regularly offer relevant and timely news, trends, strategies, and thought leadership on best practices as well as practical examples of what works…and what doesn’t.

  • December 15, 2022 12:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Authored by Ian Stewart, Vice President of Sales, Nexl & SSSME Founding Board Member*

    Sales strategy works and revenue follows

    Revenue growth may be fortuitous, but it’s far more consistent, predictable, and efficient if strategy takes the lead. As we wind down 2022, which is another way of saying wind up 2023, the firms who will lead in coming years on client experience, client feedback, employee retention, and especially on revenue growth will prioritize sales strategy now.

    It makes intuitive sense – the single biggest lever that firms can pull today to impact revenue is enabling a sales strategy. Many firms have done well on top line growth through boom times, but competitive pressures are increasing, and the prospect of economic turmoil necessitates innovation. Yesterday’s growth drivers won’t propel tomorrow’s revenue expansion.

    Still not convinced? Read on.

    Why you should consider implementing a sales strategy for 2023

    Law firms today face incredible pressures from consolidation, technological advancement, and economic forces that are all part of a new post-pandemic reality. In advising many of the best firms in the world, we consistently hear the following: books of business are more portable than ever, general counsel turnover and partner retirement present significant challenge to revenue growth and retention, the market for talent is still wildly tight and the expectations for recession are high. Moreover, employee burn out is prevalent.

    I’m not suggesting that sales strategy can solve any of these. But I am proposing that sales strategy can help.

    Sales strategy directs and focuses actions to defined goals. A well-planned sales strategy that includes measurable objectives (targets) and, in an ideal world, a codified sales process (think Miller Heiman or Sandler), qualification methodology (think BANT or MEDDICC), and the people and platform (Revenue Operations or CRM) to support it moves revenue generation and revenue forecasting from random chance to a predictable, repeatable, scalable process – from disorder to order. In other words, it’s a map for the road ahead. Notably, it’s a map that is proven to yield success. When sales strategy is in place, time is spent proactively executing on a defined plan rather than continuously repeating the same actions, meetings, and conversations ad nauseum.

    To that end, think back to your childhood. For those of us who have come of age watching Looney Tunes, we’re familiar with the often recycled ‘looping map’ gag, in which Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny traverse a map with swirling loops and crisscrossing paths as they inefficiently move from one point to another. In the same way that even a broken clock is right twice a day, our cartoon friends do eventually make it to their destination. But wouldn’t it have been more efficient to navigate a straight line? Unfortunately, for those of us who have spent time working without a clearly defined strategy, this may feel familiarly painful and elicit cries of frustration as opposed to belly-aching laughter. To put it another way, strategy is the course you’ll chart and operating without one has high opportunity costs and a cascade of subpar or adverse outcomes. By implementing a sales strategy, firms can gain a competitive advantage, focus on what matters most, institutionalize relationships, and maximize productivity among those participating in business development (BD) and sales efforts.

    How are firms implementing sales strategy today?

    At the most forward-thinking firms, they’re focusing on Revenue Operations and are reimaging the growth structure of the firm from the ground up through that lens. They’re aligning BD and Marketing under a single leader, some of whom are even referencing the word ‘sales’ outright in their title. They’re hiring sales executives, sales coaches, account managers…and aligning all of them into true account teams. They’re prioritizing an open, transparent culture and investing in technology and people to support these efforts. One major international firm we work with is even restructuring the firm’s revenue generating functions under a Chief Revenue Officer more akin to a technology company. None of this would have been imaginable at a law firm 25 years ago. While this is exciting, it represents only a small fraction of forward-thinking firms who are at the vanguard of a new era. What about the majority? And where to start when the firm hasn’t prioritized this before? Most firms aren’t implementing codified sales process and qualification methodologies (yet!), but they are recognizing some need to shift more resources to BD for 2023. BD leaders are picking a few things they can focus on to impact revenue.

    Where to start

    Firms are investing in technology (platform), people, and process in recognition of the shifting landscape. But not uniformly and only in ways that match their position on the sales maturity curve. Many firms face internal resistance and/or resource constraints. I sat with the Head of BD at one of the largest firms in the world recently and asked them what their dream state for the firm is. They responded that they want to see trained account managers and account executives embedded within industry-focused groups to maximize opportunities through deep industry acumen and sales expertise. Then immediately retorted that the firm is simply not there! So instead, they’re starting with something they can do now. They’re focusing on creating measurable growth objectives for their 10 top clients and creating a process in which their lawyers (seller-doers) and BD/Marketing teams can align in mini account teams at regular intervals with shared visibility and transparency to maximize cross-sell potential. Cue the applause!

    Many firms are starting smaller with a recognition that they can focus well and execute on a few key objectives. Some clients of ours are working with us to create and execute on objectives (targets) around sector/industry expansion, cross-selling, key client programs, and – with a bit of longer vision – on succession planning and institutionalizing relationships. All of these allow for better client experience and revenue growth, and these straightforward objectives and plans lead to less burnout and frustration for those involved.

    While I—a self-professed Sales Evangelist—hope that every firm will eventually entrench a highly trained sales function within industry-focused groups and deploy a sales process, I recognize that isn’t likely to occur industrywide overnight. There’s no need to boil the ocean for most firms. Start with the client objectives for next year and then build your three Ps (people, process, and platform) over time to support them.

    How to scale overtime

    You likely can’t hire, build, or buy your way into a perfect state overnight. But you can take steps to incrementally make progress.

    Example: One of our clients—a leading globally recognized IP firm focused on the telecom, life-sciences, and oil/gas industries—pioneered a new approach to client and account management. The firm began working with us to gain basic relationship insights and manage a pipeline without the need for manual data entry. Over time, they gradually grew their internal sales motion and scaled the use of our proprietary platform to support a new, targeted commercial team (people). This ‘client satisfaction’ (C-SAT) team is tasked with managing and supporting client and referral relationships as well as driving growth strategies through the firm (process). It has become a critical business function, allowing the firm to grow significantly in the last few years while obtaining key accolades and client success. They didn’t start by boiling the ocean. They started with an objective and intentionally scaled the platform, people, and process around it.

    Another example I can offer is closer to home. When I joined Nexl 15 months ago as the first institutional sales leader, I was tasked with helping move our organization from founder-led growth to a scalable sales organization operating on six continents. As a modern technology organization experiencing rapid growth and transformation, we needed to push on all three 3Ps simultaneously.

    • Platform: We were fortunate that we could be our own customers and leverage our proprietary no-data-entry CRM and Revenue Operations Platform as the basis for collaboration, growth, and knowledge within our organization to achieve the same benefits we deliver our law firm clients.
    • Process: We started by creating annual strategic objectives, regional targets, and business plans in the objective tracking section of our platform. We use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals, OKR (Objectives and Key Results) frameworks, and pipeline targets ($) to establish our focus for the year and align our teams. We then measure the progress over time, leverage the reporting and opportunity tracking functionality, and assign tasks within the platform accordingly to ensure we collaborate, follow through, and outperform while operating as ‘one firm.’
    • People: We’ve used this structure to hire globally in a competitive landscape to the tune of tripling our team size and to embed our platform with 100+ new law firm clients. (We added new law firm clients and employees on six continents in under 12 months.) The tight labor market in 2022 meant we needed to be incredibly focused and aligned across teams, time zones, and offices as we only wanted to attract and hire top-tier talent. Once hired, we needed to have the right systems in place to ensure success and we were able to refer to the strategic objectives and targets to hold ourselves accountable. New hires had the same clear picture of what our goals were on Day One as our most tenured employees, enabling us to collaborate effectively with purpose and speed.

    Key takeaways

    Just start. Start wherever you are. But start with your clients in mind. Create objectives and targets for next year with them in mind. Make your targets measurable and realistic. Implement the 3 Ps to support them. Scale overtime. Perfection is often the obstacle of progress. And don’t forget to have fun!

    Download Nexl's recent whitepaper Revenue Operations for Law Firms: Why Some Law Firms Realize Their Potential (And Some Don't)

    *LSSO is privileged to have access to – and be supported by – numerous legal sales and service subject matter experts (SSSMEs). As a benefit to our members and the legal community at large, we have invited several of these industry-leading professionals to band together as a SSSME Board, which will regularly offer relevant and timely news, trends, strategies, and thought leadership on best practices as well as practical examples of what works…and what doesn’t.

  • November 17, 2022 12:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Contributors: LSSO Editorial Board Member Dave Whiteside​, Director, Client Growth & Success, CLIENTSFirst Consulting with Guest Contributor Chris Fritsch, CRM Success Consultant and Founder, CLIENTSFirst Consulting

    Over the more than 15 years we have spent working together with hundreds of top law firms on marketing technology selection and success, we have seen a number of changes, developments, and trends in the industry. This experience as trusted advisors has allowed us to understand, early on, some of the primary challenges firms frequently face. And while we don't have a proverbial crystal ball, sometimes this experience can help us to predict what may be on the horizon.

    Within the broader legal industry, we frequently find that many smaller and mid-size firms are facing unique issues of their own. And while dealing with many of the same challenges as their larger counterparts, they are being forced to do so with more constrained budgets as well as limited staffing and resources. As a result, we thought it might be helpful to share some of the issues and uncertainties that smaller and mid-size firms have been facing–and the ones they are likely to face in 2023–along with some information, ideas, and best practices to help navigate them.

    1. The Way We Work Is Changing…So Outsourcing Is Increasing

    During the Great Resignation, many people changed jobs, and many are still working from home or with a hybrid schedule. Dealing with the ‘revolving door’ on staffing makes it difficult to hire, train, and manage teams. Plus, trying to supervise staff who are working hybrid or at home adds a special set of issues. Firms are also struggling to fill positions and find quality workers. When they do, the compensation and benefits expectations are higher than ever. And it seems unlikely that these changes are going away anytime soon.

    For small- and mid-sized firms, in the future, the already-tight market for marketing technology, data quality, and business development roles may tighten further, while competition with larger firms for top talent may intensify. Additionally, trying to focusing on too many non-core capabilities and roles with limited resources can take focus from other more strategic priorities.

    For more than a decade, larger firms have been leveraging outsourcing to help them fill gaps in their talent pool. In recent years, more firms than ever have turned to outsourcing as a cost-effective and time-efficient hiring solution that allows them the flexibility to source the right resources when they need them at reasonable rates.

    Indeed, we see more clients reaching out to us for outsourced support for roles such as CRM management, eMarketing support, and data stewarding, and that trend continues to escalate.

    Smaller firms can also consider tapping into these resources, which can also minimize the need for constant supervision and allow them the flexibility to purchase only the number of hours they need rather than hiring full-time staff. Delegating some of these tasks to outside experts who can do them more time-efficiently and cost-efficiently can help smaller firm get the talent they need while freeing up the marketing and business development teams to support the lawyers.

    2. Digital-First Will Continue…So the Right Technology Will Be Critical

    Because in-person networking and business development have been slow to return to pre-pandemic levels and more people now enjoy the convenience of consuming content and learning through webinars and podcasts, law firms have had to adjust to a digital-first marketing strategy, another trend that that is likely to continue.

    As a result, having the right technology will be critical to compete for business. This is why firms without essential MarTech infrastructure have been looking to acquire CRM and related, and integrated, systems. It’s also why we are seeing a significant rise in firms replacing their older CRM and other systems and acquiring new integrated marketing platforms.

    Some of these firms are moving to the cloud to reduce the overhead and maintenance associated with on-premise software. Others want more sophisticated business development tools like pipelines, dashboards, and integrated eMarketing software to support and track marketing and business development efforts. (If you need help selecting the right CRM, check out our guide: Steps to select the right CRM for your law firm.)

    It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all technology for law firms. Some of the systems designed for larger law firms may fall flat or fail in a smaller or mid-size firm due to the level of required resources. Still others are often outside the reach of many smaller due to the high costs of software and professional services required for implementation and integrations.

    As a result, smaller and mid-size firms should adopt technology designed to meet their unique needs, requirements…and budgets. The ideal platform should be easy to use; minimize attorney training, time, and effort; require reduced resources; and improve and enhance data quality. (If you need help with system selection, don't do it alone. Reach out to colleagues, providers or experienced subject matter experts for assistance.)

    3. Big, Bad Data Deluge…So Data Quality Will Be Essential

    More and more data is pouring in from every firm system, and keeping up with it can seem next to impossible. In fact, even before the pandemic, the amount of available information was exponentially increasing–and respected researchers were saying that up to 30% of this data degraded each year without regular maintenance and ongoing dedicated resources. Due to the changes caused by the pandemic, that number is likely pushing 50% as people continue to work from home and change companies, roles, and locations. As a result, most CRM and eMarketing systems are filled with incorrect, incomplete, dated, and duplicated records.

    It doesn’t matter how sophisticated your staff or technology, if you have bad data, you will have challenges communicating with your key constituencies. Your lawyers may spend a lot of time writing and speaking and doing webinars and podcasts, but if their marketing messages are not targeted to the broadest audience, that (billable) time will be wasted. Additionally, if your event invitations don’t reach the right recipients, attendance can suffer and getting real return on investment (ROI) can be challenging.

    This means it’s as important to invest in your data quality as it is to invest in software and staff. But smaller and mid-size firms may not have the headcount or budget to deal with the data deluge. Fortunately, they now have other options, such as outsourcing, to get the help they need. The good news is that small to mid-sized firms that do invest in data quality will have an advantage over larger–or really any size–firms that do not and will have a strategic advantage in the current and future competitive legal market.

    4. A Recession May Be on the Horizon…So Planning Ahead Will Be Vital

    Is a recession coming? Is it already here? Messages are mixed. Many big tech companies are having mass layoffs in an effort to finally focus on profitability over rapid growth. One benefit for law firms may be that there could be an increasing pool of qualified candidates to tap into. However, it could also be an early warning sign for layoffs in our industry.

    So, how can marketing and business development departments in smaller and mid-size firms prepare for a potential recession? They should start by making strategic hiring decisions for essential positions that directly support the attorneys’ marketing and business development efforts and consider outsourcing for other functional non-core areas, if needed. This can reduce staffing costs while providing added flexibility and allowing right-sizing their staff.

    5. One More Trend: Smarter Small and Mid-size Firms Will Reach Out for Help

    While the future may seem uncertain as so many trends are converging at once, addressing the impact of these trends provides an opportunity for firms of all sizes to be more strategic, efficient, and effective in a competitive market. Fortunately, smaller and mid-size firms don't have to navigate these issues alone. They have the benefit of a supportive industry where they can reach out to colleagues, providers or experienced subject matter experts for assistance. And if they move quickly to pivot and prepare, they may find that they can gain a real completive advantage.

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