It’s true that a law firm’s reputation is critical, but in an evolving legal market, relying on reputation alone isn’t enough to compete with the best and brightest firms. Many firms have learned that if they want to continue growing, they need to actively recruit new business and dedicate time, money and even staff members to business development.
A new survey from Bloomberg Law and the Legal Marketing Association includes perspectives from attorneys and legal marketers on how their law firms are using business development to ensure longevity. Whether your firm has fully embraced business development or it’s a new priority, here are three key takeaways that you can refer to when updating your own business development strategy.
Look towards the future
Most firms said they’re putting more emphasis on business development because of an increased pressure to generate revenue, which isn’t surprising in a saturated legal market. But, tellingly, only 15 percent of respondents said that they’re focusing on business development to prepare for new kinds of legal service providers that have the potential to disrupt the market.
This could mean that firms are failing to look at business development from a broad, long-term perspective. Generating revenue is essential, but revenue is a lot harder to generate when clients decide your services are obsolete. Does your business development plan include a vision for the future?
Most survey respondents—both from the legal side and the business development side—agreed that their working relationships remain strong but stagnant. Although attorneys may understand the importance of business development, it seems as though getting buy-in from them has proven to be more difficult. In addition, there’s a disconnect between the kind of tasks business development professionals spend most of their time doing and the kind of tasks attorneys rely on them for.
These work silos need to be broken down in order for business development staff and attorneys to work effectively together—and to get the most value out of your business development activities. Does your business development plan allow for attorneys and business development professionals to work collaboratively and learn from each other?
It probably doesn’t come as a shock to hear that many lawyers aren’t tech savvy—at least, not as savvy as they could be. Survey results show that this could be a result of law firms being reluctant to invest in new technology. Most respondents said they wanted to use technology more, especially to save time, but out-of-date tools stopped them from fully embracing it.
Again, business development is about ensuring growth into the future, and without investing in new technology, established law firms are fighting an uphill battle against newer, digitally focused firms. Does your firm include technology in its business development plan and provide opportunities for attorneys to use tech innovations?