Rolling Out Your New, Improved Practice –The Recorder

By: Sharon Berman
Published: The Recorder

How can you reinvent not only your own law practice, but the practice of law itself?

You can’t reinvent law without reinventing law firm marketing and business development. And you can’t reinvent your marketing or practice without taking action; that is, executing. If you look, and more importantly, execute, you can identify overlooked business opportunities and capitalize on them while your competitors are still mulling them over.

View the stalled legal sector as an opportunity to develop and experiment with new business models. Many law firms have spent the past few years increasing “profits” by cutting costs, usually beginning with what is categorized as discretionary business development. Now there is little left to cut. So, they are in the truly fortunate position of being forced to generate ways to increase revenue.


Focus on capturing the entrepreneurial ideas you have had for your practice, whether new service lines, industries or delivery methods. These are the ideas you have while sitting in traffic or talking with a client—perhaps brilliant ideas, but fleeting, lost before you’ve opened your front door. Concentrate on trapping them on paper and carving out time to consider them in more detail. Look for those that align with what you are doing now, so that they don’t become a distraction. For example, perhaps you worked on a matter in an area new to you, and you saw the potential to do more, but haven’t moved on it. Now is the time.


Reinventing law calls for the continued integration of technology to improve the practice of law and the client experience. Your own marketing and business development are no exception to this.

Now is also the time to create your own Big Data, no matter how small or large your firm. There are different definitions for “Big Data.” Essentially, the concept means a combination of data from traditional and digital sources that, when culled and analyzed, can point to opportunities for your firm. Some firms need to start lassoing their own data, such as tracking where leads originate. Other firms have tracked this information but never reviewed it to see what discoveries it might yield in terms of where to take their practice. Generating your own data can mean looking at your own statistics—a primary research source—and analyzing the kinds of matters clients engage you for, and then comparing that with secondary research, where legal industry research says the potential is, to see what makes sense in terms of business development.

Incorporating technology to reinvent your marketing does not necessarily mean making a large purchase. It can mean winnowing through the data you already have or could easily track. For example, some firms don’t have software or cloudware installed to track their statistics, and others receive website statistics, but never stop to interpret that material. You have the data; somebody needs to look at it to see in what direction it points.


As part of your re-creation, take a look at reinventing your network of business/professional relationships. If you are looking for fresh ideas and perspectives consider the concept of growing stronger through “weak ties.”

Sociological research points to the fact that novel ideas come from our weak rather than strong ties. Your strong ties are with those who do what you do or are in allied professions: other lawyers, judges and other professionals. You move in the same circles and have similar backgrounds. Those with weak ties to you can spark novel ideas in you because they move in different circles and see the world from a different perspective. Leveraging those with fainter ties to you is also a strong way to get the word out about something outside your usual networks. Those with frail ties to you might include the barista at your local coffeehouse, a file clerk or the security guard in your building. Start expanding your own insight by cultivating these relationships.


Design is one of the pillars of forging a new legal arena. From a marketing perspective, we can take this literally with re-examining the design of your own hard copy and online marketing materials. Think infographics and consider what text can be converted into graphics that immediately communicates your message. Standalone text has become too dense for most people who have come to expect graphic guides to lead them through even straightforward information. Incorporating easily read graphics draws prospects in and demonstrates that you respect their time and energy.


Embrace and incorporate social media into your business development program. Yes, the inexorable expansion of social media can seem overwhelming even to those who are already on board with it. But social media allows you to magnify your communication with your markets—to educate as well as showcase your expertise, and generate a conversation, whether that’s online or a phone call. Social media gives you the ability to reach beyond those you would normally communicate with. Just as with all marketing, focus is the key. Select a few channels, starting with LinkedIn, and concentrate on them.

Everyone, including the “experts,” is still grappling with how to make social media work and how to measure the return on investment. You may not be able to immediately quantify your results, but that should not deflect you. This is about marketing and modifying as you proceed.


Reinventing your practice, the way you practice or your marketing means understanding that if Plan A doesn’t immediately work, or work the way you wanted it to, you are not looking at a failure. Most initiatives are not perfect out of the box and Plan A may need modification. You need to have Plan B in the wings. You also want to keep your eye on the market because in our fast-moving world reinvention is not a one-time effort, but an ongoing one.

You must experiment to find out what works and what doesn’t. As someone once told me, there are file cabinets full of good ideas. Had enough of them been put into action, there would not be a need to reinvent law. The truth is in the execution. You do or you don’t. There is not white space in between.

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