Study: Marketing Taking On Expanded, Important Role In Midsized Firms

April 30, 2014

Midsized Law firms are investing more in marketing and are reaping rewards accordingly, according to one recent study.

Reporters observe panoramic view of the city of Tokyo from the first observatory deck at Tokyo Sky Tree in TokyoConducted by J. Johnson Executive Search, Inc. between November and December 2013, the survey of 90 firms found that legal marketing professionals and departments have become vital to the success of small (40-75 attorneys) and Midsized (40-200 attorneys) law firms.

Here is how that conclusion was drawn:

  • Ninety percent of the firms surveyed had at least one professional responsible for marketing efforts, which were defined to include public relations, communications, client development and business development. This is noteworthy because until very recently, it was not uncommon to leave marketing and promotion efforts up to individual attorneys.
  • Forty-four percent of firms surveyed increased their marketing budgets between 2012 and 2013. In a fragile market where every dollar matters, this increase seems to speak to the importance law firms are placing on their marketing efforts.
  • Around 60 percent of firms surveyed said they felt marketing efforts were “an important factor” in winning business for the firm. Contrast that to the traditional feeling that a law firm’s reputation or prestige alone would bring clients in. Eighty-two percent of firms surveyed said they saw growth in their firm thanks to marketing developments, and 79 percent said they had seen client retention.

Now, if marketing is becoming more and more important to Midsized Law firms, why might this be the case?

First, most industry sources agree that there is less legal work to go around then there was a decade ago, but there are not proportionately fewer lawyers or law firms. That means competition for such work is fiercer. Marketing departments and professionals help a law firm put its best foot forward, and that may be an advantage fewer and fewer firms can do without.

Second, there may be a lower quantity of work to go around, but a certain amount of work that once went to Large Law firms may be up for grabs. Previously, a blue-chip image and prominent status might have brought a Large Law firm clients who wanted the best and were willing to pay for it. Today, clients are looking for measures like reliability, predictability and cost-effectiveness from “big enough” or “good enough” law firms, and so appear increasingly willing to hire Midsized Law firms. Those are harder qualities to demonstrate and need a marketing department to be brought to the forefront.

Lastly, Midsized firms seem to be taking an expanded view of what constitutes marketing, and for good reason. Thanks to new tools and new techniques, marketing professionals and departments are able to identify new business opportunities and assist with the creation and strengthening of relationships. In other words, they are more versatile than they may have been a decade or so ago; that could account for their expanded role.