LMA Think Tank: Top Three Business Development Challenges at Law Firms

A recent think tank discussion hosted by David Ackert of The Ackert Advisory for LMA-LA examined the latest market research on business development challenges faced by law firms. The results detailed many findings, but the top three challenges identified by participants in the think tank, comprised of legal marketers from a range of law firms in Los Angeles, were:

  1. The lack of business development follow-up from lawyers
  2. Obtaining lawyer participation in business development events
  3. Lack of clear marketing and business development strategy

Through a series of exercises, the participants divided into three groups to tackle one of the challenges that was most relevant to their firm. Then through discussion, the participants identified possible solutions that could be customized and implemented.

Let’s take a look at some of the solutions offered to the three challenges identified.

Lack of Business Development Follow-Up from Lawyers

The first group identified several factors that contribute to lack of follow-up, including: lack of accountability, lack of time, lack of incentives and cross-promotion, location of the office in relation to the marketing team and lack of celebrating firm successes. How could these issues be addressed?

The participants developed an action plan that would:

  • Promote inclusivity via firm-wide newsletters, emails or meetings
  • Promote successes across geography
  • Clearly identify incentives to encourage cross-promotion
  • Hold monthly meetings with the attorneys to address business development initiatives
  • Develop a pilot program with high-performing attorneys and share their successes with the firm

Obtaining Lawyer Participation

Another challenge legal marketers identified during the think tank was obtaining lawyer participation in networking and business development events. Many of the legal marketers noted unwillingness by attorneys to attend networking events, not because of insufficient opportunities but because a lack of commitment and accountability. The discussion group put their heads together and identified the following actionable solutions:

  • Obtain commitment from the attorney upfront and in person prior to registration
  • Develop a marketing plan that tracks activities and measures participation within the firm.
  • Tout attorney participation, provide incentive to attend and create competition among attorneys

Lack of Clear Marketing and Business Development Strategy

This challenge was identified by several participants and was determined to stem from a lack of training and lack of resources available for business development, including internal coaching and customer relationship management (CRM) technology.

Participants identified several solutions to this problem, including:

  • Implementing ongoing dialogue between marketers and attorneys to discuss goals and challenges and to identify 1-2 objectives
  • Support open dialogue with technology-based resources, including CRM, webinars and e-learning, to facilitate proper business development training.

Overall, a key takeaway from the think tank was that engaging in open dialogue with other marketers, listening to their unique challenges and discussing actionable solutions can lead to more creative problem-solving that can be adapted to fit any firm.

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