Most law firms know that business development is necessary for a strong bottom line. However, many lack the tools or plan to set it in motion. Many in-house legal marketers have to balance a fine line of stressing the importance of business development while not infringing on the amount of billable hours attorneys must account for. Due to a increasingly competitive market, law firms are placing a growing emphasis on business development. However, the accountability placed on attorneys to engage in these activities is conservatively low.
Most business development challenges revolve around attorneys’ unwillingness or inability to bring in new business as opposed to lack of opportunities or competing firms. This internal struggle is often due to a lack of consistent follow-up and follow-through. Consistency is key in business development. It’s not the first or second follow-up with the prospect; it’s the 10th, 15th, or even 20th contact that changes the tide. Prospective clients need to see your face, they need to hear your name.
A lack of structured plan or strategy often inhibits effective business development. Far too often leads are being taken into the firm only to end up in an abyss of spreadsheets with no accountability from anyone on next steps. An adequately structured business development plan is vital to the success of a firm. Whether it means having a practice group manager who implements the plan or an outside marketing firm that offers support, every firm should have a set of business goals with objectives that follow.
Lastly, many lawyers don’t see the monetary value of business development. This frequently plagues associate-level attorneys. Young attorneys are often not encouraged to bring in business and when they do, they fail to see any financial gain. It is vital that attorneys understand and see actual benefits that make business development efforts worth their time. This entices them to attend more networking events, mention their practice groups, and essentially build their book of business.
As one grows professionally, he or she will meet people along the way that will help further their business goals. Developing a business is not a sporadic endeavor. It requires a plan of action, motivated team members and, most importantly, accountability for all involved.