This article was written by; Julie Savarino, JD, MBA, with input from each of the authors listed below.
This article is a summary of the five best takeaways from six of the best books on legal marketing and business development subjects published in the past year. The six books and associated takeaways are listed below in alphabetical order by the author's last name.
These are recently published books the author found to be particularly useful and helpful in developing a book of business and brand, however this article is not intended to be exhaustive of every book on legal marketing related subjects published this past year.
List of all six books:
Master-Level Business & Client Development Activity
AUTHOR: Julie Savarino, JD, MBA; foreword by Michael B. Rynowecer
Below are the five best takeaways from each of the six books listed above:
The author of this book, Deborah Farone has over twenty years' experience serving as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for two premiere law firms, Cravath and Debevoise, and as a marketing specialist with the management consulting firm Towers Watson. To write this book, Deborah conducted extensive interviews with successful rainmakers, some of the most forward-thinking chief marketing officers, firm leaders who are conducting interesting innovation projects within their law firms and academics. Here are five of the best takeaways from this book:
- Your network is everything - Relationship building is critical to the success of any business, but it's particularly critical in one so nuanced and dependent on the element of trust, as the practice of law. Relationships between lawyers and their clients, lawyers and their marketing staff, and lawyers with one another within a partnership are valuable keys to growing a prosperous business. Regardless of the threats made to the relationships between lawyers and clients for example, pricing or alternative approaches to handling legal matters – relationships remain the holy grail of business. While there is great disruption in this era of change, for those who stay ahead of the curve and move quickly, there is also great opportunity.
- Collaboration is key – In most large law firms, the most profitable and interesting new business comes from internal referrals. There are law firms where internal collaboration is part of the firm's DNA. Partners meet with one another over lunch to explore finding opportunities to work together and ways to better serve clients. They introduce one another to clients and prospective new clients for all types of networking and for new business. Then there are the law firms down the block, where lawyers are involved in a whole different world. It's a dog-eat dog, kill or be killed environment. Guess which approach is more likely to lead to developing business? Research demonstrates that when specialists collaborate across functional boundaries, clients are less likely to leave and less likely to see the firm's work as a commodity.
- Career and business development coaching is becoming the norm – Providing lawyers with coaching by experienced business development coaches, by marketing staff or outside salespeople with proven track records are now seen as a must. Most law firm partners now realize the high value in engaging with marketers to maximize their practices' growth potential. They are no longer afraid to hire outside consultants to help guide them in terms of staffing issues, marketing plans or individual coaching in leadership and business development skills. The stigma of a lawyer who says, "I need coaching" is fading away.
- Adapting to become part of the changing landscape - Law firm clients continue to consolidate their use of outside law firms and other legal services providers. Market and client share served mainly by traditional law firms is increasingly being taken by alternative legal providers such as Axiom, Elevate, UnitedLex, Integreon and most major accounting firms, who also service technology voids. Most traditional law firms are simply trying to keep pace. It's important to keep an eye on and learn from those firms that are moving ahead and creating innovation centers, such as Allen & Overy and Orrick. These firms are not waiting for change to impact the profession, but rather they are becoming part of the change itself.
- A strong, internal law firm culture equals increased profitability - The culture of any firm can make or break the organization, and it is also clear that those firms with the strongest and most consistent cultures, where leadership communicates up and down the organization, are usually the most profitable and the most successful. Lateral partners are more likely to remain in place, and conflict between practice areas is less likely. Building a solid culture takes work and discipline and it needs to be supported by a compensation system that rewards both business development and collaboration.
This excellent book also provides a myriad of specific examples, techniques and tips on how to implement or maximize each of these five strategies.
Co-author Ross Fishman, JD has years of experience successfully working with lawyers and firms and believes there's always a way for them to stand up, stand out, and stand above the competition. Ross joined forces with Susan Freeman to write this great book. Susan has a long-standing passion for helping women succeed. She drew on her experiences as a sales executive in the financial services industry, her 18 years of business development and communications in the legal industry, and her graduate-level studies in communication to co-author this book.
- Be Mindful of the Differences in Communication Styles - Growing up, boys and girls are often segregated, restricting them to socialize solely with individuals of their own gender, learning a distinct culture as well as their gender's norms. This results in differences in communication between men and women, inclining both genders to communicate for contrasting reasons. For example, men are more likely to communicate to maintain their status and independence, while women tend to view communication as a path to create friendships and build relationships. For men, communication is a way to negotiate power, seek wins, avoid failure and offer advice, among other things. For women, communication is a way to get closer, seek understanding and find equality or symmetry. Much of this communication takes place using nonverbal cues. More than half (~70%) of all communication in conversation is done so in nonverbal form. These same concepts play out in the law firm setting. Being aware and adapting your thinking – and behavior – will help you to succeed with colleagues and clients.
- Don't Fall Victim to Stereotypes - Not everyone fits into the generalizations about men and women. Whether it's your genetic makeup or the environment you were raised in, many factors can dictate how you act. People may vary widely from the norms.
- Stay Aware - Understand that men and women have different communication styles. Do not be offended when a person of the opposite gender responds or acts in a way different from what you were expecting. There are gender differences in: nonverbal cues; facial expressions; physical space; touch; posture, use of gestures; eye contact; how misunderstandings are overcome; and paralanguage which is defined as "the non-lexical component of communication by speech, for example intonation, pitch and speed of speaking, hesitation noises, gesture and facial expression," and paralanguage is used by women much more than men.
- Find Your Audience – The single biggest mistake lawyers make in their marketing is lack of focus. Find a narrow target audience, e.g. an industry or trade association, and aim your marketing efforts diligently on that group.
- Marketing's Not Hard. It's Just Hard Work – Focus narrowly, create a realistic and achievable plan, and grow your network steadily over time. Slow and steady wins the race. Don't seek business, focus on helping people. No one wants to be sold, and lawyers don't want to sell. Be your friendly and authentic self, listen more than you talk, and be sincerely interested in helping people achieve their goals.
The above are just five of the practical and useful tips in this great book.
Professional mingling presents challenges for the introvert — who may feel reluctant to pitch their business at a cocktail party or meeting. This book is a nuts-and-bolts guide for turning socializing into business development opportunities. By detailing first-hand accounts alongside visuals, charts and checklists, the author details a high-level approach to making connections, and offers helpful tips and tricks that any lawyer can use to grow their client base. Here are five useful takeaways:
- The most important trait for successful networking is attitude - The best networkers focus on helping others attain their goals, and they get help in return. As they say, "Give to get." "What goes around, comes around." People lie, bodies don't. Savvy networkers' interest in others is underlined by their body language – especially their handshake, smile and spotlight of attention –which signal their willingness to form a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Effective business-focused networking is not random acts of lunch - It is a strategic process for creating personal connections that help individuals achieve economic, social and emotional goals. It is an intentional strategy designed to identify, target, find, meet and grow relationships with individuals who can introduce you to new ideas, new experiences and new clients. It takes an investment of time, attention, and money.
- Networking is an essential strategy for professionals intent on building their practice, firm, or client base - It is natural because it ties back to the basic human need for trust-based relationships and social interactions in groups. Since the cavemen we have wanted to know people before we let them onto our team and into our life or work. We want to take "the measure of the man": Can he be trusted? Is he good at what he says he does? Will she value me and treat me with respect?
- Networking provides opportunities for meeting people in person and online, in various settings and for a wide variety of purposes - But there are too many people, too many opportunities. To maximize the return on investment, excellent networkers work within niches, narrow focused segments of an industry, a geographic area, a demographic subgroup, a specific product, a certain situation. They create a target persona: a stand-in for their ideal target. They give her a name, life history, work history, attitudes, aptitudes, prejudices, needs, wants and hang-ups. They then build a selling proposition that will resonate with this target group.
- Strategic networkers learn where their target persona goes for knowledge, who she trusts, how she buys and why she would work with them - They then prepare for relevant conversations with their targets by drafting three versions of their pitch:
- An elevator speech designed to intrigue her and lead her to ask questions about the how and why of your work.
- A value statement that explains why you do what you do and how it benefits those for whom you work.
- Stories that illustrate why they should use your services.
As the legal services paradigm continues to undergo seismic shifts, the roadmap to attracting clients has changed drastically. The traditional methods of developing business are no longer effective marketing strategies for the 21st century legal services buyers. This is the reason Kimberly Rice authored this comprehensive book. Below are the five best takeaways:
1.There are three primary pillars to a prosperous service business: relationship-building, reputation-enhancing and contact management.
- Due to the personal nature of providing legal counsel and advice, relationship-building tactics are the cornerstone to growing a solid practice.
- While a lawyer may be the preeminent source of expertise in each area of legal service, if the "right" individuals (prospective clients) are not aware of this lawyer, there will be no service for fee.
- Third, if lawyers do not regularly get and stay connected with their network – clients, referral sources, prospects and others - growth cannot occur.
2. To build a prosperous legal services practice, lawyers must develop a marketing mindset in which they see opportunity all around, for them and their firm colleagues. Often, lawyers are so myopic in their focus that they are often challenged to recognize a trigger for their services. So,
- First, lawyers must understand what the triggering events are for their and their colleagues' services (note: every area of legal practice has different triggers).
- Second, lawyers must be informed on how to leverage opportunity when they recognize it. This book outlines concrete steps that practitioners may take to advance business development potential.
- Finally, lawyers who truly aspire to plan for growth, develop a simple, yet integrated, marketing plan in which to outline, track and measure incremental high impact steps to get in front of targeted, qualified prospects on a regular basis, get and stay connected with their growing network and expand and strengthen their existing client relationships.
3. Bringing the voice of the client deeply into your daily practice is one of the essential steps to building a prosperous practice. While many lawyers first consider "getting out there" to fish for new business, in fact, expanding existing client relationships has proven to be the quickest path to cash infusion for their practice, if they are sensitized to their needs. Further, clients are looking to their legal advisors to understand and stay a step ahead of the threats and opportunities that impact their (the client's) business. The more that lawyers are in tune with the business issues that their clients face, the greater the business development opportunity.
4. Most lawyers are not trained in the business of law, so they do not bring a sales mentality to their client development efforts. Once they understand that, they can realize greater success. With this understanding, they will eliminate their random acts of marketing and develop systems and processes to optimize their strategic business development efforts to yield greater results. With these learnings, lawyers are well positioned to "pack the pipeline" by taking low volume, high impact steps to grow their network, approach their professional activities with greater clarity and intention.
5. There is no magic formula or silver bullet to building a prosperous business. Simply put, it is a process with distinct and multi-faceted steps to be taken over the long term. This book describes what the author calls the Secret Sauce to marketing success, which is consistent, persistent and massive amounts of strategic action over a prolonged period. Lawyers who implement a plan of intentional action on an ongoing, regular basis with consistent follow up are the ones who will yield the greatest results for their efforts.
To learn more about the Secret Sauce described in this great book and how to use it to build a practice, consider buying this book.
This book is a valuable, no-nonsense guide that delivers hands-on advice on all critical aspects of modern public relations — from the dos and don'ts of media relations to controlling the message to harnessing the power of the internet and social media. The author, Gina Rubel, a former litigator and seasoned law firm public relations expert, includes anecdotes based on more than 25 years of experience and interviews with more than 20 legal marketers. She provides clear guidance, templates and checklists, walking readers through the basics of strategic PR for business development. Here are five key takeaways from the book:
1. Public relations must be integrated with strategic business development planning and marketing: The role of public relations is to help build a firm's brand equity by delivering key messages to its target audience to elicit a response and thus shape public opinion, attitudes, and beliefs. PR plays a role in the "get more business" world because it creates awareness, develops thought leadership, supports client retention and acquisition, and provides materials for content and social media marketing.
2. Eight key steps in developing a strategic public relations plan are critical to PR success. To develop and execute a strategic law firm public relations campaign, law firms must employ an eight-step process essential to developing a measurable and sustainable public relations plan as opposed to implementing ad hoc PR tactics.
- Establish goals and objectives.
- Define how the firm wants to be perceived.
- Determine the target audience.
- Establish key messages.
- Decide what you want the target audience to do.
- Identify which tactics will persuade your target audience to act in the desired manner.
- Implement each tactic to generate optimal results.
- Measure successes against goals and objectives.
3. Every law firm should have a media policy. A law firm's media policy should include:
- A list of whom may speak with the media on the law firm's behalf.
- Detailed protocols for handling media queries.
- Details of what the spokespersons or lawyer may and may not discuss.
- Guidance on how to handle specific types of queries, e.g., legal matters.
- An outline of the firm's crisis communications and incident response procedures.
- Guidance on how the firm will handle the ethics of dealing with the media.
4. Every lawyer and law firm leader should be media trained. Media training involves four Ps: preparation, practice, planning, and performance. Each element is an essential component of powerful media training. Media training teaches you how to handle an interview, how to appear in various media situations, how to communicate a message persuasively, and how to overcome physical and verbal roadblocks to effective communications.
5. Every law firm will face a challenging incident or crisis. Be prepared. While not all incidents rise to the level of a crisis, the legal industry is witnessing an enormous spike in the need for crisis communications and crisis management plans. With data breaches and cyberattacks, lawyers acting badly, lack of diversity and inclusion in many U.S. law firms, the MeToo movement, and so much more, it is foolish for any law firm to believe they do not need a crisis management plan.
The above are only five of the hundreds of practical and useful takeaways and tips included in this outstanding book.
foreword by Michael B. Rynowecer
I wrote this book based on a culmination of my almost 30 years' experience working successfully with and for lawyers, law firms and other professional services firms and providers. Five of the best takeaways from my recent book are:
- Consistently developing new business is part art, part science – Too many lawyers still think that developing new business is a "soft skill" that a person either has or does not have. Yes, developing business is partially a soft skill, but many aspects of it can be learned by those interested in improving. Another fact often mis-understood by many lawyers is that much of work needed to develop new business for lawyers and law firms is cumulative and step-by-step and consists of many related processes and sub-processes. Examples of common business development activities that are in fact step-by-step processes (which this book includes as checklists) include: responding to a Request for Proposal/Qualifications (RFP/Q); preparing for new business "pitch" meetings; attending a conference or seminar; among others.
- Efficient use of non-billable time is crucial to a successful law practice – With intense billable hour demands, most lawyers find they have very little time left in any given day, week or month to create and implement an effective business development program. Those that do create such a program often find they have little time to implement the tactics of the program. So, it is critical for all lawyers to use self-discipline along with relevant technologies (such as Outlook or Google Calendars and CRM systems, such as Intapp's OnePlace, , ContactEase or SalesForce) to schedule their business development tactics into their calendars and routine. Doing so helps avoid being mainly reactive, a slave to the demands of the day, and instead automates scheduled time to implement relevant business development tactics.
- Annual, written plans should not sit on a shelf – Related to takeaway number two above, many lawyers are required by firm leaders to create or fill-out an annual business or business development plan. Yet, once done, too many lawyers simply ignore their plan and rarely refer to it or use it (except at year-end or before compensation time). Instead, lawyers should consider using their annual plan as a guidepost throughout the year to be sure they implement what they planned. To do so, attach your annual plan to your calendar and schedule. For example, create a recurring weekly or monthly calendar meeting or appointment with yourself. Name it something like "Marketing/BusDev Follow-Up", attach your annual plan to the calendar meeting, and each time that meeting pops up, force yourself devote at least 5-30 minutes to do at least one thing listed on your plan, whether it's as simple as making one phone call or sending one email to set up a lunch or meeting. If the meeting pops up and you are buried in something else, and cannot take any time, move the meeting to a few days later to remind you again. Then, discipline yourself to devote the time.
- Relationships are everything – All lawyers know that without clients, they would have no law to practice. Yet, many lawyers tend to: take many of their critical business relationships for granted; think they already know everything about each of their clients; remain mainly reactive, waiting for clients to call or reach out to them; and minimize the degree to which change is constantly happening, both within both their client's companies/entities themselves and what's worrying individual clients. Due to non-stop competitive pressures and what innovative firms and alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) are doing to get new clients, lawyers need to be more vigilant in protecting their relationships, and nurturing, securing, adding value to and developing them regularly, as appropriate.
- Lack of prior preparation usually leads to less than optimal performance and results – Again, due to intense time pressures and other factors, many lawyers either fail to take time to prepare or simply "wing it" when implementing many common business development activities. For example, while many lawyers are great orators in a courtroom, not all are great public speakers. Presenting before a jury or judge is much different than making a speech to an industry or trade show audience, at a continuing legal education (CLE) event or presenting to other groups of people. Similarly, many lawyers fail to request and review a conflict report before approaching a potential new client for outside legal work. Not pre-clearing conflicts can lead to embarrassment and potentially threaten existing client relationships.
This highly rated book contains step-by-step process maps and a plethora of proven, valuable tips in checklist form for lawyers and in-house marketing support staff to use and refer to when planning or implementing the most common business development and marketing activities.
About the author of this article:
Julie Savarino, Managing Director of Business Development Inc. holds an MBA, a JD, and is a licensed attorney. Over her 30+ year career, she has built a reputation as a leading international, award-winning business and client development coach and strategist for lawyers, law firms, and other professional services providers and firms. She has successfully served in-house in client and business development positions for the law firms of Dickinson Wright and Butzel Long and for the accounting firm Grant Thornton. Follow Julie on Twitter> and LinkedIn> or contact her at +1 (734) 276-1900, Julie@BusDevInc.com.