Most attorneys who practice on their own or at a small firm will tell you they love the freedom and close relationships with their clients. Many lawyers leave big firms specifically for these reasons. But every rose has a thorn, and at small firms, that thorn is having to be a business owner in addition to being a lawyer.
Thomson Reuters’ annual State of U.S. Small Law Firm Survey shows that the majority of small and solo firms face the same challenges that all small businesses do, but they aren’t always handled successfully. Whether due to a lack of support, knowledge or time, many lawyers said they had no plans in place to deal with their most significant challenges. For example, 75 percent of respondents said that acquiring new clients was a “moderate or significant challenge,” yet less than 30 percent of firms said they’d done something in the last year to address it. Pretty alarming.
Finding solutions to these challenges can feel overwhelming. But to improve your small firm and ensure its long-term success, you have to start with a plan (even a small one) and work from there. To get your wheels turning, here are three common challenges from the survey and tips to handle them.
The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time to give gifts, celebrate with loved ones and…plan next year’s legal marketing budget. Yes, as the year comes to a close, law firm marketers need to wrap up their projects, reflect on what worked (and what didn’t) and decide how to spend their money next year.
Budgeting isn’t the most exciting activity, but it doesn’t need to be a burden. If you follow these five tried-and-true budgeting tips used by top marketers, you’ll ensure that budget season not only runs smoothly, but also sets your firm up for success in the New Year.
Longevity at a firm has many benefits, and one of them is that staying with one firm for multiple years or even decades makes it possible to build up a solid and reliable book and network of business contacts. However, law firm partners with many years of experience under their belts run the risk of becoming set in their ways and ignoring innovation in favor of using the same marketing strategies and tactics they’ve always been comfortable with. And with the marketing landscape changing radically every day, those who rely on “dinosaur marketing” are getting left behind.
It may be true that in order to fill your Rolodex with new clients, all you had to do in the past was attend a few industry events each year and call up a select number of referral sources every so often. But nowadays, with an oversaturated market and a dizzying array of choices available to potential clients, it’s not only important but also completely necessary to be innovative and stay on the cutting edge of marketing. (And if you’re still using a Rolodex, it’s also probably time to make the jump to a digital contacts database.)
Though it’s tempting to give in to nostalgia and say, “Well, this is how I’ve always done it,” you’re doing yourself a disservice by dismissing modern marketing tools, such as social media advertising, search engine optimization, programmatic advertising, retargeting and more. You’re also putting yourself at a disadvantage to competitors who may be less talented than you, but who are doing a much better job at marketing outside of their comfort zone and getting their name out there.
It’s also tempting for those who have been in business for a long time to fall into the popular trend of looking down upon young professionals. Avoid this mistake. In addition to the fact that the stereotypes casting millennials as lazy, precious and entitled have been repeatedly debunked, allowing this type of ageism in your corporate culture means you risk underestimating your younger competition, who generally have few to no reservations about utilizing modern marketing tactics. You also risk driving away promising young talent to more millennial-friendly workplaces.
So, the next time your marketing agency or fresh-out-of-law-school associate proposes a strategy or technology that sounds completely ridiculous to you, take a step back and at least give it a chance. If you keep your head in the sand, you may be content with the status quo, but you’ll never know what opportunities you’re missing.
In short: don’t be a dinosaur marketer unless you’re okay with going extinct.
The inaugural Legal Marketing Association Southwest Region Conference underscored the need for law firms to become more effective, efficient and energized marketers. Speakers offered 8 ways for law firm professionals to be Great in Law, Leadership & Legal Marketing. Learn more below.
According to a recent report by ALM Intelligence, at least one-third of all law firms have no succession plan in place for firm leadership or for client team leaders, putting the future of even large firms in peril. If there is no plan in place as the older partners retire, the firm is sure to find itself in trouble.
So why aren’t all law firms giving as much thought to their own future success as they do for their clients’ future wellbeing? According to the same study, many law firms haven’t formulated their plans because they are having a hard time identifying successors. Conversely, younger attorneys cited resistance from senior partners as the reason for the lack of planning. So where in the middle can the millennial attorneys in a firm find common ground with the older partners?
Interestingly, this common ground can come in the way of creating that succession plan together. Input from the future firm leaders (generally millennials), coupled with the years of experience from the senior partners (generally those 55 and older), can be blended together to create a smart succession plan that addresses the needs of multiple generations of firm leaders.
How do you create a succession plan for your firm? Start by taking these 6 important steps.
For other insights revealed through this report, click here.
Berbay’s most recent Cultural Camaraderie program took in three contemporary art galleries and the exciting new LA Arts District. This outing enlisted the aid of Art Muse Los Angeles with our artist guides Lindsay Preston Zappas, founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles (CARLA) and Sarah Jones of Sarah Jones Art. These amazing women led us to several interesting and off-the-beaten path art galleries in Los Angeles.
The first stop was to Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, a contemporary art gallery in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles. Presenting the first solo exhibition of Los Angeles-based artist Julia Haft-Candell entitled the infinite; the exhibit displayed an in-depth exploration of the artist’s recent wall reliefs and ceramic sculpture which we found both beautiful and striking.
Next, our tour took us to the Los Angeles Arts District and one of the largest complexes there, Hauser & Wirth. With exhibits of the provocative and influential work of acclaimed LA-based artist Paul McCarthy and Polish artist, Monika Sosnowska. whose exhibit displays Polish architecture in sculptural installations created from industrial materials and objects. We were mesmerized by the entire complex.
Our day ended with an early dinner at Manuela. All in all, it was a fun, thought-provoking and stimulating day.
Launched in 2016, Berbay’s Cultural Camaraderie focuses on exploring the vibrant culture that is Los Angeles as a stimulus for innovative thinking and creativity as well as enjoying time together. Prior outings have included visits to The Gamble House, the Hollyhock House, and the Broad Museum to name a few.
With roughly 330 million active users, Twitter remains a powerful social media channel for lawyers and law firms to utilize as part of their overall law firm marketing strategy. However, many law firms fail to leverage this highly influential marketing tool to their maximum benefit. That may change however, as Twitter recently doubled its character limit from 140 to 280.
Why the Increased Character Count Matters to Law Firms
Following a trial in which the character count for tweets was increased from 140 to 280, the results were favorable enough to compel Twitter to increase the limit for most users. One reason? Those who tweeted longer posts experienced greater engagement.
In fact, according to a blog post by Twitter Product Manager Aliza Rosen, “people who had more room to Tweet received more engagement (Likes, Retweets, @mentions), got more followers, and spent more time on Twitter. People in the experiment told us that a higher character limit made them feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall.”
This should come as good news to law firms, which more than most professions, depend upon being able to articulate exactly what they want to convey. This of course, proved challenging with the previous 140 character limit. So, with more room to say what you want, if you’re not using Twitter for your law firm marketing efforts, it’s time to ask yourself why.
Here’s a reminder of the benefits that law firms can reap from using Twitter.
Since there is no need to worry about abandoning a tweet because you just can’t condense it enough, or fear that your message may be misinterpreted because you had to abbreviate so many words, there’s never been a better time for law firms to begin tweeting or reengaging with your audience through Twitter.
As marketers working with litigators to help build their business, we often hear pushback to the tune of: “I’m too busy.” “The work is already coming in.” “If I focus on a niche, I’ll lose other business.” All of which may be true but isn’t going to be a sustainable approach to obtaining more clients in the long-term.
We recognize that litigators are in a distinctive position when it comes to business development. Unlike their transactional counterparts, there isn’t a natural flow of work coming in the door, and it can be tough to identify a prospective client list, i.e. people who might be sued. Of course there are exceptions to this – litigators working with large corporate clients that have ongoing litigation – but for the boutique litigation firm or litigator within a full-service law firm, the strategies for lead generation are going to be different.
Craig Brown, a Law Firm Business Development Consultant with LawVision and a former litigator, recently spoke on “Business Development for Litigators” at the Legal Marketing Association Western Region Continuing Marketing Education Conference. He examined key tactics that are effective in creating successful rainmakers:
The idea is to turn awareness activities into relationship activities. If you’re writing an article, for example, turn this into a relationship activity by simply reaching out to a prospective client or referral source, and say, “I’m writing this article, I’d appreciate your input” or “Can I quote you?” You can start building a relationship before you’ve even published the article. Use awareness activities as a tool to further relationships with those you want to obtain business or referrals from.
Whether you’re a legal marketer, firm administrator or litigator trying to generate new leads, recognize that marketing a litigation practice may look different than other practice areas. By applying the above tips, litigators can intentionally build key relationships and become outstanding rainmakers.
Read Berbay’s LMA Continuing Marketing Education Conference recap “8 Keys to Riding the Wave of Change” here.
Watch the conference webinar recap here.
View the infographic here.
Competition with peer firms, alternatives to law firms, emphasis on diversity, and more, are forcing legal marketers to evolve their thinking and take a leadership role to drive effective outcomes. The recent LMA West Region Continuing Marketing Education conference “Nexus of Change” focused on three fundamental areas: a macro view of the changing industry; how changes are impacting legal marketers; and managing ourselves as individuals so we can adapt to these changes. Within this were eight key takeaways to riding the wave of change.