Traditionally, with the exception of a few natural and gifted “rainmakers,” law firms and lawyers have approached marketing and business development with fear and loathing. In today’s hotly-competitive legal marketplace, however, traditional marketing practices fall short and the era of distinguishing between “finders, minders and grinders” has given way to the requirement that every partner (and even many associates) make a serious and significant business development (BD) contribution in addition to revenue generated from work.
Firms now must specialize their marketing efforts as their target markets specialize, breaking large practice segments into more numerous practice groups and even more numerous client teams. In a marketplace that traditionally appeared highly homogeneous, successful BD efforts now must articulate the firm’s “differentiators” – in terms of expertise, experience, quality and cost.
Edge consultants are experienced at supporting the BD efforts of entire firms, practice groups, client teams and individual lawyers by providing consulting and coaching that:
- Advises on how to conduct effective market and competitor research.
- Assists in development of strategic marketing plans for the entire firm, for various practice groups and for individual lawyers.
- Teaches how to cultivate more business from existing clients.
- Teaches how to identify and access promising client leads.
- Shows effective firm marketing and self-marketing techniques and tactics.
- Works with individuals focusing specific BD challenges.
- Integrates BD techniques with such other areas as handling RFPs, negotiating alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), prevailing in convergence programs and leveraging LPM capabilities.
Client Relations and Business Development Training
The good old days when a few rainmakers attracted enough work to all the law firm’s talented lawyers busy are sadly over. Many firms now realize that many who have not traditionally attracted work must now learn how to do it. Edge’s Rainmaking® program has been utilized by many firms around the world to help teach individual lawyers not only to attract new clients but provide greater satisfaction to existing ones. Edge also coaches and trains individuals in firms who want to attract more work. Sometimes even the very best rainmakers have tremendous potential to generate much more.
- A large general practice firm had two clients actively involved in a highly specialized chemical process. The firm felt its operating and technical experience about the products manufactured and the product liability and environmental issues involved would be valuable to other manufacturers. We assisted the firm in creating its first industry group, creating internal information flows for industry-related information, gaining a position on the board of the leading trade association serving the industry, and using technical writers to assist in generating a column on legal/business issues for each issue of the industry’s trade magazine. The result was that the firm began representation of two additional companies and handled a client’s acquisition of several companies that would normally have gone to specialized M&A counsel.
- A firm in a “rust belt” city had been unsuccessful in identifying a merger partner. As an alternative, they wanted to position themselves as “the” go-to law firm in their city. Edge International performed a sophisticated study of the marketplace that involved interviewing a large number of businesses. We determined the areas where growth was most likely to occur in the city, and the firm positioned itself to build both expertise and reputation in those areas. The firm has risen to the point where they are the most profitable firm in the city.
- A large international firm was concerned that partners in various locations were operating as “free agents” in their marketing efforts. To develop a common business development experience base, the firm engaged Edge International to facilitate an ongoing series of training programs in every office of the firm. The program was designed to use exercises that stimulated cross-office business development efforts, and resulted in an increase in multi-office engagements and a much greater comfort level among partners in joint marketing activities.