The role of marketing as an agent of change within a law firm

March 13, 2014

State of the legal marketChange can be slow in coming to law firms.

On one hand, that is understandable. Law firms operated with largely the same business model for many, many years. Success was not hard to find, so there was not much of an incentive to change.

On the other hand, the time for change is now, because the years of finding success through conventional means of business development seem to be over. Work has thinned out and clients appear to be newly sensitive to issues like cost and predictability of outcome. As a result, many legal industry observers feel that law firms simply cannot continue to do business the way they have been. In order to survive, let alone flourish, they have to change.

This need to change is an opportunity for law firm marketing professionals and marketing departments, because they often are the ones that inspire new approaches and instigate innovation. Of course, getting an institution that is comfortable in its ways (like a law firm) to change is a challenge.

I have worked with many law firms that have successfully made positive changes with regard to business development, and one common thread I have observed is that law firm marketing professionals and departments succeed when they work to educate the law firm units as to:

  • Why there needs to be change
  • Where changes need to be made; and
  • Why the firm needs a new strategy moving forward

A law firm marketing professional who is succeeding as a helpful, forward-thinking agent of change takes control of these key factors and is able to make sure they have a strategic focus. Namely:

  • Helping the firm’s attorneys deliver a higher level of service and build better opportunities with returning clients.
  • Driving deeper client knowledge and achieving a true understanding of that client’s industry, fortes and challenges.
  • Creating a defined understanding of differentiated value that the firm provides.

I want to acknowledge once again that it is far harder to adhere to this general outline than it was for me to write it here. The writing is on the wall, however, and change must happen at law firms. Now, it is up to marketing professionals and departments to really own that change and turn it into a new opportunity.