Well run and successful law firms in my experience always seemed to have a good marketing sense. Even in the days before the “M” word came into vogue, these firms had a rainmaker (usually a founding partner) or two good at bringing in business. As the legal industry became more competitive, more firms have recognized how critical marketing is to their success; and a lot more partners must get involved
So it wasn’t a big surprise when I ran across an article by Michael Rynowecer, president and founder of The BTI Consulting Group, identifying 8 key habits of highly profitable law firms, which appeared in John Remsen’s Managing Partner Forum weekly newsletter. The habits were identified as the result of a survey of over 330 law firms. Although not mentioning marketing specifically, I realized the habits are all excellent marketing tools
- Smaller number of mega clients. According to Rynowecer, this can lead to deeper client understanding, more cross-selling opportunities, economies of scale and opportunities to mentor team members. (It can also ensure the firm remains profitable, if a mega client were to fire the firm);
- Ongoing client dialogue. Even when you are not working on a matter, keep up a dialogue about the client’s business. It’s a good way to show that you’re not just interested in them because of fees, but are genuinely interested in them and their organization;
- Focus on more niche practices. Niche law firms have a deeper understanding of a practice, and can focus on an in-depth capability and expertise. As Rynowecer states these “firms go narrow and deep.” And, of course, in this day and age most firms cannot be all things to all clients;
- Educate clients to avoid problems. Offer ideas and solutions to clients before they become a problem. It’s just another way to add value to client relationships;
- Greater firm socializing among partners. One of the biggest reasons that cross-selling doesn’t work in many firms is because there isn’t enough knowledge, familiarity and trust among the partners. There should be a lot more internal socializing beyond the annual retreat. If a firm wants cross-selling to occur, there needs to be a great deal more relationship building within the firm;
- Firm uniformity across offices and practices. Without a solid management structure that ensures consistency and uniformity across office boundaries and practice areas, it will be more difficult to reduce client anxiety if they decide to use an unfamiliar practice area;
- Inform clients early regarding changes. Clients do not like surprises about anything. Accordingly, it’s best to keep clients informed about any potential changes and problem areas in the representation; and
- Focus on clients with ongoing work. It’s of a no-brainer that if you like the client and the work you do for them, then it’s a good idea to work at obtaining more of it. It’s just an obvious and less expensive marketing strategy.
If all of the above are done consistently, it reflects good marketing and business development savvy that will make your firm highly profitable.