Here are tweets and highlights from Day Three (4/15) of the 2015 Legal Marketing Association (LMA) International Conference. There's a LOT here -- you may want to bookmark this page and return for tips during the year.
General Counsel Panel
- Look at the work, does it need to be done inside our firm? Can it be done by technology/process improvement?
- In-house tackles the 80% of work in the middle, send the bottom 10% out to off/near shore like doc review or back office, trade mark offering. At high end, bet-the-company litigation go to a partner firm – like Public Co., M&A work.
- Budgets have been and continue to be flat, so we must consider: is it flat or in decline? Things can get to a point where you can’t effectively outsource. It’s a challenging time for firms to be partnering.
- There’s another trend, the convergence to preferred providers. Thus firms’ pitches/RFPS now refer to value-based fees. RFPs should also talk about working with procurement & the leveraged procurement process. The days are gone when procurement won’t play role with respect to ownership in multiple companies. You must educate the procurement professional regarding what the legal department has to offer. Law firms can participate in that education – it needs to be on-point and in response to the Procurement Team’s questions.
- During first-rounds, one firm led with its Labor & Employment expertise as per the procurement/RFP. The firm next abruptly marketed its M&A services because they thought they could offer more in that area. They were not invited back. (I’ll add: The firm didn't listen to the client’s core needs, didn't respond on-point.)
- We made the switch to a set of value firms, dividing work across seven categories – some of those firms worked in more than one area. We saw real value in the interviews: a lot can be said of brevity (in responses), and we could gauge appetite for the work. We wound up with 39 firms and communication is better. Now our first question is: can we give (new work) to one of our network firms?
- We recently reviewed our go-to firms and asked: If you’ll hold rates flat, we’ll stay with you, or you can go through the RFP process. 95% stayed with flat rates.
- (One GC gave the following anecdote) One of the partners (at a partner firm) said moving to non-hourly billing made her feel like a part of the team and less like a vendor. Plus, it took a lot of tension out of the relationship.
- Pricing and staffing are yins and yangs. Value-based fee arrangements are moving more rapidly than firm compensation.
- May be helpful for a firm to share its internal realization metrics on a case by case, client by client basis. We understand it’s important. In our best relationships, I receive how the billing partner is doing on a realization report for our company.
- Firms’ reactions to fee options were a key initial barrier to RFP process. Our customers expect to pay for value and we expect that from our law firms.
- (Re: the use of success bonuses) We incent based on wins in litigation, sometimes on milestones in litigation, e.g. if we get Summary Judgment we double the fee; if you deliver results sooner, we are tickled; if an M&A deal busts, we take 30% off the top.
- We’re spending a lot of time processing and understanding data. Help GCs understand the data, and price accordingly. Really be a partner. Be armed with and honest about the data.
- We appreciate continuity in the attorney-client relationship. Firms are doing more to retain key attorneys for us – losing someone can be particularly disruptive for us. I would relish our outside firm making certain, as part of their evaluation, “to what extent is (a particular attorney) key to retaining us as your firm?”
- I’m looking for a partner to help me do better in my role, come forward with tools and solutions to more effectively manage the work. That will make it harder for us to change away from you.
- To market to us, hot topics are helpful and a good way to build the relationship. Allow us to subscribe to particular areas of interests, give us topic-focused newsletters.
- I get most of my news from Twitter, I use Twitter as a new resource.
The next session I attended was close to my heart – “Developing an Ownership Mindset, Engaging Partners to Drive a BD Mindset” – because the subject reflected many of the principles I have long championed and employ when encouraging attorneys to be more entrepreneurial.
Speakers: David Freeman, David Freeman Consulting Group; Kurt Kicklighter, McKenna Long Aldridge; Tom Turner, Procopio
- A key question: Can we align the firm to drive desired behaviour? Will the internal PR support the drive for that behaviour?
- It is critical to celebrate success within the firm. (I’ll add: I have seen both sides of this. When only the attorneys on a project are acknowledged, or when success is rarely publicized within the firm, it negatively affects moral across the firm. Conversely, when firms acknowledge the full team that helped produce results (office services, paralegals, as well as attorneys) and inform the whole staff of recent successes, it buoys the firm and raises moral, camaraderie…and helps preserve people’s interested in working on future projects and with that firm.)
- At one firm, recent successes, articles, firm press – appear as part of the browser when computers are turned on at the start of the day.
- “Zipper” with your clients: the primary firm partner and the company GC may be at the table and be connected, but how else might other attorneys at the firm/on the project connect down the line with other members at the company (attorneys and company leadership)?
- “Cross-serve” rather than just cross-market.
- Consider with your prospects and clients how you are co-owners – how might you work on solutions and new business together?
- What tools might a lawyer offer to get a meeting? For example, tools that might help them engage… Labor and Employment attorneys have great tools to engage.
- Consider using the DISC test as a means for giving attorneys a way to think about engaging with people on the other side of the table.
- Consider sending two people to a (trade show): Yes, send the partner, but also send a junior who can learn from the partner, learn from the experience and learn how to promote the firm and listen to prospects. Plus, you’ll now have two perspectives on the event.
- Get leadership together on a regular basis as a think-tank to share problems and solutions.
- Law firms are a series of teams that ebb and flow – how can that be turned into High Performance?
- Lawyers’ personalities generally tend toward autonomy. So it will help them to move forward by having an accountability system transparent to the firm/other teammates. If they know they are being watched, they won’t want to fail and will be more willing to participate.
- Best Practice 1: Use a “T Account” – sort of like the T-accounts from accounting. During a meeting, each attorney lists on one side of the T work/to-dos for the coming week. Follow-up steps and progress is listed on the opposite side.
- Best Practice 2: Scale budgets for producers. Rather than allotting to every attorney the same budget, provide incentives for business development production (the greater the BD, the more their allowances increase). For partners and associates.
And now, a re-cap of the tweets. There were plenty, this is just a high-level sample.
K&L Gates was recognized for its virtual conference center: http://www.klgateshub.com/?utm_content=buffer8fe94&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Quarles & Brady, best law firm website: http://www.legalmarketing.org/p/cm/ld/fid=1574
Jessica Dobias, Marketing Manager of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta – Rising Star
(And, I’m proud to note that my client, Hermes Sargent Bates of Dallas, won second place for their Holiday Card submission, their first entry into the Your Honor Awards.)
@KBWhit shared this slide from the annual ACC survey:
LexisNexis Software (@Business_of_Law) teeted Larry Bodine’s predictions (found here: http://businessoflawblog.com/2014/12/predictions-law-firm-marketing/?utm_content=buffer1ec8c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer). I suggest that his #6 is really #1 or #2 – as what I refer to as “social currency” becomes paramount to business development.
@BeaconLive shared the following list/guidelines for six types of webinars: http://www.beaconlive.com/blog/6-types-legal-marketing-webinars?utm_campaign=Brand%20Awareness%20-%20Legal&utm_content=14168582&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter
@LXBN shared an interview with the 2015 keynote, Daniel Pink: http://www.lxbn.com/2015/04/14/daniel-pink-explains-everyone-needs-sell-especially-law-firms/
Re-cap of the Six Laws of Business Development: http://businessoflawblog.com/2015/04/laws-business-development/?utm_content=buffer8512b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
@LMAVancouver: BD Coaching is unlocking a lawyer's potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them learn rather than teaching them.
@reymundo_e: Your top competitor is alternative methods of getting work
From @LindsayGriffiths’ interview with 3M GC Joseph Otterstetter: http://www.zenlegalnetworking.com/articles/general-counsel-corner/
@RightHat – “YES, GCs look at websites and blogs when considering a new firm.” (I added: so do laterals and new hires – it’s a significant part of their review of a firm.)
@amberb01 - If you provide incentives for success (value-based), you're more likely to get success. More effective than simply buying hours.
GC panel acknowledged Jordan Furlong’s blog, http://www.law21.ca/. Jordan presented during last year’s LMA CMO summit, delivering current, relevant, motivational concepts.
@jabezlebret shared the Four Crucial Questions to Ask Your Marketing Agency: http://www.attorneyatwork.com/four-important-questions-ask-marketing-expert/
@jabezlebret also tweeted a great question: Incomplete Information: 92% of ppl trust recommendations, of course, but how many go online after the referral before the call? (You don’t know what you don’t know.)
@BeaconLive provided several great drive-by tweets on Wednesday. This one helps determine whether it’s time to re-brand: http://www.beaconlive.com/blog/branding-your-law-firm?utm_campaign=Responsive%20Inbound%20Marketing%20Month%203&utm_content=13970259&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter
@gaillamarche – at the Ownership Mindset panel: Find where your lawyers' passion is so they can become better engaged #coaching (I always employed this method training runners and personal training clients, it’s a simple key strategy that’s often overlooked in law.)
@roysexxton – “Keep any biz dev committee few than 9 people, otherwise you cannot create a collaborative bond.” Re: Ownership Mindset panel
@KellyMackinnon – Firm leadership needs to push through client feedback interviews with top clients. “No” is not an acceptable answer. (Agree – I have seen success when client feedback process is employed.)
@LMAMidwest – No better way to hear the voice than to hear the voice – TALK to your clients about how to increase their loyalty. (I’ll add: Two opportunities: during the RFP/Get-The-Business phase, and during follow-up Client Feedback phase. Key: Set up and engage those two processes, and internal action upon/from the results.)
@LindsayGriffith reminded: Number One Malpractice claim against law firms? Bad communication. Number Two: Time Management – didn’t meet the deadline.
@LindsayGriffths – “We’re all selling something – even in-house lawyers.” From the Ownership Mindset panel. (I’ll add, it has been a slow revolution from the days when lawyers could not promote their businesses to where we are today. Related to that, lawyers have long held a distaste for the idea of selling and for the words “sales” and “marketing.” Yet, the transition to a sales-atmosphere spotlights competition. If you eschew opportunities to grow (i.e. sell and market your services) – someone else will sail past you promoting their services. The market is now full of shoppers, and you need to be available on the shelf – in some form for fashion.)
@DaynaSuzanne shared a slide depicting results of a 2013 Gallup study: a) Engaged employees are more likely to experience loyalty, job satisfaction and positive energy at work, b) yet, only 30% of US employees feel engaged at work. (This is important to examine in law firms where an us-versus-them division can occur between attorneys and staff. Where strides have been made to bridge the gap and include staff (in information about firm activities, successes, progress and in the list of participants of achievements), morale increased and turnover decreased – both of which impact the bottom line and, today, can be seen outside the firm (pro or con) via social media.)
@DaynaSuzanne also shared the related slide note from a Towers Watson study: Companies with the highest number of “sustainably engaged” employees had an operating margin of 27%, three times higher than those with the lowest engagement scores.
@Laura_Sclafani - Before you bill a client, spend time speaking with them: write a memo, explain the bill!
Perhaps the question of 2015: from @jabelebret “Can you really define someone else’s perception of value?” (No, and hat’s the basis for seeking client insights.)
@GreatJakes – Hire people who are better than you, who are not afraid to challenge your ideas. (Doing this equals growth!)
@Lalaland999 – “Smart is why you got in the door. How you manage the relationship is what keeps you inside.” @amberb01 added – “There is no shortage of lawyers who can do the work. Managing relationship effectively wins you the biz & allows you to keep it.”
@LXBN recapped the Client Expectations session here: http://www.lxbn.com/2015/04/15/lma-15-social-recap-client-expectations-todays-marketplace/
Another great list from @BeaconLive – Five legal marketing trends you should have started in 2014: http://snip.ly/PWK2?utm_campaign=Legal%20Campaign&utm_content=14168352&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter#http://www.beaconlive.com/blog/top-5-legal-marketing-trends-that-you-should-have-started-in-2014
@roysexton – from the Ownership Mindset panel: If you are phenomenal at something, but it isn’t of value to the client…so what? (We also examined this question on the CMO Summit.)
@NancyMyrland – When Faegre and Baker & Daniels merged, they had each been doing client feedback programs. They do a debrief immediately after the client feedback visit. Faegre Lesson: Utilize Managing Partner when facing resistance with the attorney responsible for the client who has been debriefed.
@Jeannette_M_R – Client feedback: track progress 30/60/90 days. Helps ensure everyone’s on the same page.
@KellyMackinnon – Have a plan that the Client Relationship Manager drives to keep momentum going. Nothing worse than asking for feedback and not acting.
@LIndsayGriffiths – Even if you are not a spammer, you can be classified as one by some of the things set up to prevent spam. Include an unsubscribe link. Even if it doesn’t apply – do the Best Practice. Manage bounce-backs – it can impact your email reputation and deliver ability.
@roysexton – Key questions of competitor analysis: How are they marketing? What do you know about their people/team? What is their experience, their services? What is their image (and what is it based on)? Where are their offices located?
@reymundo_e – If revenue is a goal for Client Teams, make sure it’s profitable revenue you are after.
Most of the tweets from the GC panel and the Ownership Mindset panel related to notes captured above here.
During the day I also shared:
The Social Media sizing chart, from Larry Kim at Inc. - http://www.inc.com/larry-kim/social-media-image-sizes-cheat-sheet-infographic.html?cid=sf01001
“People will most support that which they helped create.” ~ @JHOtters on the GC Panel regarding involving full team membership, not just key leaders. (And the subsequent Ownership Mindset panel follow up by reminding that acknowledging success breeds camaraderie and is important to business development.)
“YES, I have seen this work WELL: have lawyers follow up (with clients), PLUS have non-lawyer/Marketing representative follow up.” This was my tweet related to client feedback discussion in the Ownership Mindset panel. Lawyers and firms seem afraid to seek feedback, that’s not unusual – that’s human nature. But, what if you sought feedback and your competitor didn’t? You would be armed with opportunity to deliver what the client tells you it wants, with the opportunity to show you really care by rectifying any issues (and, see my notes from this session), plus demonstrating a desire for the business, for the relationship, is a key decision-maker for GCs courting and reviewing firms.
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