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LMA Annual Conference Wrap-up: Big Marketing and Business Development Ideas for Small Law Firms

In smaller or mid-size law firms, marketing can seem overwhelming because there is so much to do and limited resources to do it. Jeff Dennis and Lindsey Dilsaver, the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Director of Marketing at Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter Law Firm, attempted to provide ideas to legal marketers in such situations. They gave a PechaKucha-style presentation during the 2018 Annual LMA event, entitled, Big Ideas for Small Law Firms. In a matter of 20-seconds, where the pair presented 20-slides to the audience, they needed a Gatorade, but the audience members walked away with several great, actionable ideas from their presentation.

Planning, Tracking, and Evaluating Law Firm BD Investments –

Dennis and Dilsilver provided some basic metrics that would provide some ROI information on a few standard BD Investment activities. The value comes when these figures are used as living, breathing metrics. In order to infuse them with meaning for your firm’s situation, it’s important to track them over time as well as create goals and benchmarks. It is important to use the information to inform decisions about strategies and investments for your firm moving forward.  These figures can be used to create a shared language with the numbers, communicate with firm leadership and other stakeholders, and integrate them into your firm’s annual marketing report.

  1. Pitches and Proposals
    1. Pitch Rate Success: Understanding the basic success rate of how many pitches you win:  # of engagements/# of Pitches
    2. Integrated ROI of Time: Effort of department against fees generated, return on time spent: Fees Billed/Hours Spent + Employee Cost
    3. Total Fees Generated:  Get a number for the total business generated with help from marketing department: Add up cash from projects
  2. Marketing Communications
    • Email Open Rate: Learn the percentage of your contacts who are engaging with content: Outreach viewed/Outreach Sent (numbers available in your email program, segmented by campaign)
    • Valuable Traffic: Percentage of web site visitors that represent potential clients, etc.: Total Visitors x (1-bounce rate)
    • Event Engagement:  Who attends your events that is invested? Repeat attendees/Total Attendees
  3. Firm Investment
    • Total Investment--firm’s total investment in marketing over time: Salaries + Total Marketing Dollars/Revenues
    • Practice Reinvestment-where dollars are invested and switch up based on strategy: Practice Marketing Allocation/Last Year’s Practice Originated Revenue

Key Metrics Law Firms

Building Credibility in and outside the Firm –

On a more individual level, it’s important to build your credibility as a marketing professional both in and outside of the firm. Use your knowledge and develop your own niche in the industry and across the firm.  Finding ways to externally validate your skills and expertise is a great way to build your credibility. Additionally, by earning outside awards and accolades, you can demonstrate your abilities internally and externally within your industry-niche. 

Here are some thoughts on how to build trust in the firm, in the community and in the industry.

  1.  In the firm: Build relationships and get involved to educate yourself on your firm’s issues and to demonstrate your value.
    1. Build your internal network
    2. Use internal resources
    3. Be a champion of the attorneys
    4. Attend meetings/get involved with committees
  2. In the Local Community
    • Win awards for the firm--this demonstrates your expertise to those in the firm
    • Share your involvement in the community--attend educational events and provide a summary
    • Be active in economic development organizations
    • Be aware of local business activities
  3. In the Industry-
    • Share Involvement with LMA/get involved with other organizations
    • Find a mentor
    • Be active with Facebook/Linkedin

Develop Effective Marketing Training Materials for Lawyers –

Teaching lawyers to be effective marketers is a major challenge for any legal marketer. Finding ways to make an impact in attorney’s lives and helping them build a book of business is an important way to show value.  Below is a list of programming suggestions broken down into six areas to empower attorneys; this will help them improve upon their marketing capabilities, and challenge them to think about it in the work they perform. 

  1.  Business Development:
    1. General Counsel Panel Discussion
    2. Alumni Panel Discussion
    3. Flat Fees + Packaging Your Services
    4. Building Relationships for Associates
    5. Cross-Selling
  2. Marketing Communications
    • Best Practices for attending conferences
    • Leveraging Social Media
    • Dos and Don'ts of Powerpoint presentation
    • Maximizing website bio
    • Personal branding
  3. Client Services
    • Meaningful Client Conversations
    • Using Marketing Collateral to Supplement Client Meetings
    • Client Feedback process
  4. Marketing Technology
    • Leveraging your CRM system
    • Incorporating Video into your practice
    • How to best utilize your intranet
    • Collaboration with accounting team & Software
    • Understanding web analytics
  5. Professional Development
    • Find the right educational opportunities
    • Mentorship and why it matters
    • Industry and Community Engagement
    • Navigating your career
    • Firm Diversity and Inclusion
  6. Economics + Ownership

Building a Lawyer-Coaching Program (3-Steps)

Lawyer coaching programs can be an important aspect of a marketing department’s contribution to a law firm.  Before beginning, be strategic in your selection of attorneys who participate in the program.  It is important to understand how attorneys are evaluated in your firm, and how they are compensated, so you can speak to the concerns of your attorneys. If possible, it is also important to review analytics when selecting candidates. One way to increase buy-in is to show attorneys how the Coaching Program will help them and show them how you can impact their book of business in meaningful ways.

  1.  Discovery Interview--this is an opportunity to find out more about how you might be able to help the attorney.  
    1. Performance Metrics:  what are attorneys judged on?
      1. Billable hours
      2. Business Development
      3. Service
      4. Firm
    2. What is the attorney’s pipeline?
      • Work they have--or work they might have: existing work pipeline
      • Target work--what work do they want?
    3. Marketing?
      • Successes and failures
      • What is the comfort zone?
    4. Relationship Mapping
      • Internal--who do they know within the firm?
      • External--who in their contacts could be a source/referral?
    5. Community Involvement
      • Organizations
      • Leadership
  2. Marketing + Business Development Brainstorm
    • Come up with two ideas for each of the following areas to pitch to the attorney.
      • Digital
      • Relationship Development
      • Events
      • Content
      • Organizations
      • Skills Development
    • Based on conversation with the attorney, choose 3 to focus on.
  3. Choose 3 of your ideas to implement
    • Focus on Internal Resources, Timing and what is the Next Step
    • Set up a consistent schedule, break down tasks into smaller pieces, everything is individualized for the attorney, based on his or her set of circumstances

Performance Metrics Lawyer Coaching

Create a Compelling Annual Marketing-Report –

This is your chance to show your value, integrate the ROI you have developed, and communicate the message you are trying to transmit throughout the firm.  This is an opportunity to not only show your contribution to the firm but also set things up for continued success-by highlighting what you want your lawyers to know about the firm and your marketing goals.

  1. Personalize Report to your firm:
    1. Position the report to show your value
    2. Highlight new practice groups so attorneys know about them and can cross sell
    3. Hand deliver report, make it hard to miss
    4. Integrate firm culture & events; for example, firm had a lot of new babies born, highlighted new babies with new marketing initiatives
  2. Sample TOC:
    • Marketing Director Message
    • General Firm info
    • Event info
    • Website info
    • Business Development Info
    • Content Marketing
    • Advertising Campaign Highlight
    • Marketing Strategy
    • Community Service Highlight
    • Practice Area Highlight
    • Marketing Project of Initiative Highlight
    • Testimonials
    • Diversity + Inclusion or Recruiting Highlight
    • Fun Culture Highlight
    • Looking Ahead to Next Year


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About this Author

Eilene Spear legal news editor and writer at the National Law Review
Operations Project Manager & Lead Writer

Eilene Spear is the Operations and Projects Manager for the National Law Review.  She edits and formats author profiles, legal news content and legal event listings from prominent law firms who publish on the NLR website.

As Lead Writer, Eilene writes extensively on a variety of legal topics; including legal marketing topics, interviews with top legal marketing professionals and the newest trends in legal marketing.  Additionally, Eilene writes on issues affecting the legal industry, such as women attorneys and the challenges they face, along...