July 16, 2024
Law firm business development and marketing know-how

Many attorneys kicked off 2022 determined to ramp up business development efforts to acquire more clients. And they vowed to spend less time on administrative tasks so they can spend more time practicing law.

“The most satisfying thing you can have as a lawyer is a solid relationship with a client where they trust what you’re telling them,” says law firm business development consultant John Reed, founder of Rain BDM. Building that confidence in clients takes time and expertise, and it must show up in your marketing, business development, and delivery of service.

The Thomson Reuters 2021 State of Small Law Firm Report found that “Indeed, many lawyers reported increasing their emphasis on marketing and networking, improving client communication, updating websites, increasing social media presence, [and] changing marketing strategy.”

The report looked at the activities firms take on to generate more new business, including attracting prospective clients. According to the report, “Most respondents plan to increase their spend for video marketing, social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising, although networking, reputation management, and websites were popular choices as well.”

That’s a lot of content to generate. So how can overworked attorneys satisfy these growing content needs while also growing their own legal expertise?

With the right legal research tech, lawyers don’t have to start from scratch. Legal know-how content from Practical Law can help attorneys demonstrate their expertise and connect with prospective clients. Many attorneys use available resources including:

  • Dynamic search: Efficiently find the best answers quickly with the help of AI and human expertise
  • Legal updates: Get specific practice area updates and changes on a weekly or monthly basis
  • Checklists: Ensure all phases of the matter have been addressed
  • Standard documents and clauses: Draft templates with notes and tips from Practical Law’s team of experts

Practical Law also helps elevate their business development and marketing efforts. For instance, they may repurpose Practical Law Legal Updates to keep clients, newsletter recipients, blog readers, and social media connections up to speed with new developments, trends, and legislative actions.

Reed notes that these marketing tactics can present a great opportunity to strengthen a relationship with existing clients as well. “When you’re writing an article about a tax law update, reach out to a client who can add perspective,” he suggests. “That’s a great way to build relationship without selling something.”

Winning new business and growing existing client relationships doesn’t come easy. You have to make people feel confident that you have the expertise and skills to work effectively on their behalf.

You might have the legal expertise and intellectual curiosity to tackle anything that comes your way. But how quickly can you demonstrate it? Practical Law can support you and your firm as you respond quickly to requests from clients and prospects:

  • Legal trainings: Preparing and updating presentations for client trainings can take significant non-billable time. Instead of starting from scratch, download and customize Practical Law’s ready-made, regularly maintained PowerPoint presentations. These materials help you explain legal issues in terms everyone will understand with relevant, recent examples.
  • Quick response to tricky questions: You can use Practical Law’s maintained documents and resources to respond quickly when a new issue comes up and to make sure you can hit key deadlines. When your clients see this speed, they will be more inclined to send you new matters.
  • Competence at all levels of your firm: Associates sometimes make mistakes and often don’t know where to start. Even senior attorneys sometimes rely on out-of-date precedents. Practical Law can help ensure that attorneys at all levels have step-by-step guidance that reflects current law and practices.
  • Expanded practice areas: As clients look to you for more support, they may need help in practice areas outside your expertise. Instead of referring that work to other firms, use Practical Law’s Practice Notes and Checklists to get up to speed quickly and handle new matters with confidence.

Of course, none of these resources replace the expertise of the attorney applying the wisdom. For instance, Reed notes that delivering a presentation on tax matters is a start — but there’s even greater power in turning that presentation into a conversation about the tax and other business needs of the audience. “By asking intelligent questions of your audience, you give them confidence that you understand their situation, and you give answers that really help them,” he says. “And then you can identify the true business development opportunity in front of you.”

Growing your visibility through marketing efforts and strengthening relationships with prospects through excellent business development are two great ways to grow your firm. Of course, growing the body of work with your existing clients is also crucial to overall firm health.

Reed encourages firms to be strategic about growing relationships and referrals from existing clients. “I love to have firms look back three years and see who their top clients were then — and who they are now,” he says. “Then we can ask questions” Who fell off the list? Who moved up? What are the reasons for those changes and what can you learn from them?”

The more you learn about what builds or weakens bonds with your clients, the more you can lean into your strengths. “If you can build trusted relationship status with clients, they’re going to be your best source of referrals,” Reed says. “And if you’re so entrenched with your client that you don’t have to worry about them leaving your firm, you’re going to enjoy your practice more.”

It’s an ambitious and inspiring approach to practicing law and developing new business. You don’t have to do it alone. See how Practical Law can help you demonstrate expertise, connect with clients, and instill confidence to win new business and grow your work with existing clients.