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  • January 25, 2024 5:28 PM | Kate Hudson (Administrator)

    Author: Michele Bisceglie - Director, Business Development & Strategic Initiatives | SCG Legal & Member, LSSO Editorial Board

    I was recently part of a pitch conversation where the person sitting (virtually) across from me proudly stated they “purposely didn’t do any research” prior to our meeting because they like to learn about their potential partners “organically.”

    If that scenario sounded like nails on a chalkboard to you, I say: same.*

    But it was a good reminder that we tend to put ‘sales’ before ‘service’ in our minds, in our sentences, in our strategies, even in our titles. (No shade, all love LSSO!)

    And that’s not wrong. The two certainly can be – frequently are – sequential in nature. But I respectfully remind us of a theory that…perhaps…we should think of them as concurrent.

    To rephrase the iconic Glengarry Glen Ross expression: ABC means Always Be Caring.

    The foundation for exceptional client service starts long before a pipeline is developed or prospect considered. To seamlessly succeed on this deliverable – whether it’s during a scheduled interaction or at a moment’s notice when time, money, reputation, or equally significant thing is on the line – a culture of caring must not only be omnipresent but palpable.

    Simple to say, but oh how elusive to put into practice (and blatantly obvious when forced or contrived). The variables are limitless, conditions ever changing, and expectations often unspoken. Every year millions of dollars, hundreds of software applications, and a mind-numbing number of hours are dedicated to capturing and then capitalizing on details that help solidify…a feeling.

    How can something so subjective have such a major impact on our bottom lines?

    Handwritten thank you notes, popcorn tubs at the holiday, a meaningful birthday message, remembering to ask about a child’s soccer game, vibing over a shared love of vino…all good ways to help build rapport. And niceties you can direct or control.

    But the instances when a prospective or current client – not just the decision maker, but anyone in their camp – hears chatter about or experiences our product or service and we are not present to guide them cannot be controlled.

    This is when that ‘feeling’ really comes into play.

    Case in point: Years ago, I was a commissioned sales representative for a membership-based organization. Our attraction and conversion numbers were frequently positive. Our attrition numbers were terrible. (I mean, really bad.) When my sales colleagues and I suggested we find the root cause…and, you know, fix it…we were told that was not our concern. Our focus needed to be signing people up because that’s how we got paid. Did I mention part of our sales model was predicated on referrals? So, you see the problem, right? We were selling people on an experience but certainly were not always around to ensure it. We – just like the members – had to trust that promises made during the sales process would be kept. Alas, it was not to be. So, members didn’t suggest their personal and professional friends join. And, when their attempts to address issues failed to cause change, they resigned. But who really got hurt? Everyone! The members didn’t feel we valued them, their time or money, and certainly didn’t feel safe bringing people they cared about into a crummy situation. A solid revenue strategy was not available to the sales team, our colleagues didn’t make money from cross-selling products and services to happy members, staff turnover became a punchline, etc.

    I could not be happier to have had that training ground in my early career.

    Today we hear about building psychological safety[1] within our internal teams, but how about with our clients? If an attitude of care – whether shown by us as the relationship point person or our colleagues…in any capacity at any time – is something that flows through the organization’s veins, stellar reputations are etched, referrals become a way of business, sales ‘tactics’ become passé.

    Yes, our product or service still needs to live up to the hype, especially if what we’re selling is (totally or quasi) commoditized. But the magnetic pull of our caretaking can be so strong that clients don’t often leave us and competitors constantly try to emulate us.

    So how, pray tell, do we effect such a differentiator?

    We model the behavior we want to see in others (and not just when the spotlight of a pitch is on). We show respect from the front door to the boardroom. Every time. We do our homework. Meet opportunities prepared. Don’t assume. Ask questions. Seek out and address concerns. Honor budgets and timelines. Offer compliments and constructive feedback. Support. Suggest. Champion. Commiserate. Apologize. Say please. Say thank you.

    We treat a client’s business as if it’s our own. We acknowledge and assuage any real, perceived, or pop-up fears, helping clients consistently feel confident they made the right choice to partner with us on their mission and matters. We prove in our actions and reactions at all organizational levels on both sides of a contract that our sales pitch promises are not hallow rhetoric.

    We treat each client service opportunity as if it’s a new point of sale. Because…isn’t it? And around and around and around we go.

    The beauty of adopting this course of action is that even if our ‘competition’ takes a similar approach, no two client service experiences will ever be the same so long as the people are different. And when this course of action is fully realized – with true authenticity – price tends to be less of a sticking point, introducing additional products and/or services tends to be a little easier, and forgiveness (when/if needed) tends to be more freely available.

    There are, of course, exceptions to every theory. But on this one, I’m OK with being accused of confirmation bias.

    Wishing you all good health, much happiness, and continued success in this new year and beyond!

    * In fairness, I offer that the person who was in the conversation with me is part of – by all outward appearances – a very successful organization and so may indeed be one of those exceptions to the theory.

    [1] What Is Psychological Safety? (hbr.org)

  • December 20, 2023 6:50 PM | Kate Hudson (Administrator)

    By David Kamien, CEO & Founder - Mind-Alliance Systems

    Law firms are turning towards Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance their operations and client services in the rapidly evolving legal landscape. The appeal of AI technologies, like ChatGPT, lies in their ability to leverage extensive data and knowledge resources. However, the effectiveness of AI is deeply rooted in the quality of the data it processes. This article explores the journey of a law firm as it prepares its data environment to deploy AI technologies effectively.


    The first step in that journey is to establish a data catalog, which is a metadata hub that describes the business and technical characteristics of data. The second step is to implement data fabric architecture. A data fabric connects all data and makes it accessible from one place. The most effective data catalogs rely on knowledge graphs to align, harmonize, and conform data to enterprise standards. The next step is implementing a Master Data Management solution for effective data quality and governance capabilities. Formalizing data governance policies and mechanisms for ensuring data privacy, regulatory compliance, and data security is the final step for revamping a law firm’s data management to prepare it for AI. 

    Data Catalog

    Imagine a global law firm looking to drive growth through Strategic Account Management (SAM), using AI to identify clients with the highest potential for revenue growth. The first challenge is organizing and analyzing client data accurately. This is where the concept of a data catalog comes into play. Administering a data catalog is the first step a law firm should take to prepare its data for AI.

    A data catalog serves as an organized inventory of the firm's data assets. These repositories codify and organize the metadata that describes data assets. They help users identify where their data is and understand what exactly it is, which is crucial for AI systems to function effectively. A framework like Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry (SALI) can aid in standardizing the way metadata terms appear across various systems. When those standardized terms are cataloged, the firm can ensure consistent understanding and usage of data across the board.

    Data Fabric Architecture

    Next, it’s incumbent on law firms to make their data available to users and consume applications via data fabric architecture. Firms must do more than simply catalog data to prepare it for AI applications. The data must be accessible and able to be integrated from various sources—in real-time—for effective analysis and decision-making. This is what a data fabric does. Data fabric architecture provides an integrated layer of harmonized data atop diverse sources, allowing seamless data access and analytics from a single locus. It extends the capabilities of data catalogs and knowledge graphs, democratizes data within the organization, and enables agile data governance. Some of the most effective data fabric implementations rely on knowledge graphs to align data according to standards and represent it in a uniform way that’s easily accessible to any number of applications—including those for AI.

    Knowledge Graphs

    The third step for law firms seeking to prepare their data for AI is to create a knowledge graph that ideally becomes part and parcel of their data fabric architecture. Unlike traditional databases that arrange data in rows and columns, knowledge graphs represent data as an interconnected network, mirroring real-world entities and their relationships. For a law firm, this means creating a web of data that connects cases, statutes, clients, and other relevant entities. This structure, which can serve as the integration layer in the data fabric architecture, is crucial for understanding the intricate connections unique to legal data and feeding AI systems like ChatGPT with contextually rich and structured information. Knowledge graphs can significantly enhance the accuracy of AI systems by providing them with a profound, contextual understanding of legal data. This advantage is redoubled when the terminology describing domain specific concepts is harmonized by frameworks like SALI and incorporated in the knowledge graph.

    Master Data Management and Data Governance

    The next step in this journey is to facilitate a MDM solution, which is a critical aspect of readying law firms’ data for AI applications. In this context, MDM would ensure that critical data points, like client names, are consistent and accurate across various source systems. This consistency is crucial for any AI-driven analysis or process, such as SAM. MDM provides firms a strong foundation for sophisticated data mining and AI applications by establishing clean and reliable reference data—and data quality levels that meet expectations for sustainable use of data over the long term.

    Data quality is an important facet of data governance, which is especially pivotal in the legal sector, where compliance, privacy, and security are paramount. Formalizing their data governance rules, personnel, and guardrails is the final step in getting data systems for law firms ready for AI applications. Effective data governance ensures AI systems adhere to the standards of various regulatory bodies and legislative requirements throughout their lifecycle, from data input and processing to the outputs of AI applications. Such governance also includes managing data access, ensuring privacy, and maintaining accuracy in AI responses.

    Holistic Data Management

    Integrating a data catalog, data fabric, knowledge graph, MDM, and data governance enables law firms to create a robust, AI-ready data environment. This integration doesn’t just enhance each component's individual capabilities. Ultimately, it transforms how data is accessed, organized, analyzed, and utilized. For AI to be successful, particularly in a domain as complex as law, effectively managing and structuring data is non-negotiable. With this comprehensive data management approach, firms can prepare their data for AI and set a new standard in legal data analytics and client service. The result is a robust metadata framework that would enable users to interact with their data in natural language, courtesy of AI technologies, to create clean, clear customer 360 records of clients, exploit relationships with them, and pinpoint opportunities to increase profitability.

    For law firms venturing into AI, the journey begins with understanding and organizing their data. By investing in a knowledge graph, establishing robust metadata management courtesy of a data catalog, and understanding the nuances of the business context of their data, firms lay the groundwork for AI technologies to yield trustworthy, precise, and valuable insights. Doing so is not just about adopting new technology; it's about transforming how law firms view and handle their data, unlocking the full potential of AI in the legal sector.

     

     Technology

    Role in Data Management

    Relation to Other Technologies

    Data Catalog

    Serves as an organized inventory of the firm's data assets, facilitating data identification and understanding.

    It integrates with Data Fabric for seamless data access and feeds into the Knowledge Graph for contextual data understanding.

    Data Fabric

    Provides an integrated layer over diverse data sources, allowing for real-time access and analytics.

    Supports the Data Catalog by unifying data sources; enhances the capabilities of Knowledge Graphs through diverse data integration.

    Knowledge Graph

    Represents data as an interconnected network, mirroring real-world entities and their relationships.

    It relies on a Data Catalog for structured metadata and uses the integrated data from the Data Fabric for rich context and accuracy in AI applications.

    Master Data Management (MDM)

    Ensures consistency and accuracy of critical data points across various systems.

    Supports Data Catalog in maintaining standardized data; crucial for providing clean data to Data Fabric and Knowledge Graph.

    Data Governance

    Formalizes the roles, rules, and responsibilities for ensuring AI systems adhere to privacy, security, and legal compliance standards.

    Overarches all technologies, ensuring ethical and compliant data use in Data Catalog, Data Fabric, Knowledge Graph, and MDM.


  • November 24, 2023 1:01 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Authors: Beth Cuzzone, Global Practice Group Leader, Deal Cloud at Intapp | Co-Founder of LSSO | Co-Chair of LSSO's Editorial Board | Member of LSSO's Board of AdvisorsJill Zwetchkenbaum, Associate Business Development Manager for Mintz

    The legal landscape has undergone a significant transformation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially as we look to 2024, the shift towards virtual interactions has not only become a necessity but has also presented law firms with new opportunities for growth and efficiency. Virtual selling, the process of engaging clients and closing deals online, has emerged as a crucial aspect of this paradigm shift. In this article, we explore the concept of virtual selling and provide law firms with seven proven best practices to thrive in this new reality.

    What Is Virtual Selling?

    Virtual selling is the art of selling products or services online or remotely, eliminating the need for face-to-face interactions between lawyers and clients. This approach leverages digital formats such as email, social media, video conferencing, and sales enablement platforms to connect with clients, showcase legal expertise, and facilitate seamless transactions. By embracing virtual selling, law firms can broaden their reach, reduce costs, and engage with clients from anywhere in the world.

    How to Sell Virtually

    Law firms looking to excel in virtual selling must adapt their strategies to the virtual environment. According to best practices, successful virtual selling for legal professionals involves a combination of frontstage and backstage activities.

    Frontstage Activities:

    1. Make it Personal:

    • Craft personalized prospecting emails tailored to the client's industry, role, or challenges.

    • Enhance engagement by including videos introducing lawyers and discussing relevant legal topics.

    2. Spend more time preparing for the meeting than AT the meeting itself:

    • Engage with stakeholders beforehand to address potential client questions and objections.

    • Utilize technology tools to practice and refine legal pitches, ensuring a flawless virtual presentation. Don’t skip the dress rehearsals!

    3. Create Sharable Materials and Track Engagement:

    • Utilize pre-recorded videos and content sharing tools to build trust and rapport with clients.

    • Track client engagement with shared materials to gauge interest and buying intent.

    Backstage Activities:

    1. Wow Them:

    • Keep virtual meetings short, interesting, and collaborative.

    • Build trust through creative gestures, such as sending client meeting kits or arranging food and drinks delivery.

    2. Stay Top of Mind:

    • Recap virtual conversations using personalized videos, voicemails, or voice notes to reinforce key points. Remember, the average email open rate across all industries is 20% and this continues to go up with inbox being oversaturated.

    With permission, add clients and prospects to your mailing lists and include that as part of your sales process. Then, drip-feed relevant content to maintain client engagement and stay on their radar.

    3. Nurture Relationships:

    • Conduct regular check-ins to discuss industry trends and share relevant legal content.

    • Utilize private communication channels, like digital sales rooms, to provide a personalized buying experience.

    4. Use Virtual Selling Tools:

    • Leverage video creation tools for personalized interactions.

    • Utilize content sharing technology and virtual meeting software for seamless communication.

    • Implement call recording and note-taking tools for efficient client interactions.

    • Utilize digital sales rooms to centralize relevant legal materials.

    For both the font stage and backstage activities, don’t forget to share your feedback and “wins” with your colleagues and at meetings where relevant, to institutionalize best practices and drive others to want to contribute to this success.

    The post-COVID legal landscape demands a strategic embrace of virtual selling. By personalizing interactions, preparing meticulously for virtual meetings, leveraging the right tools, and nurturing client relationships in a way that feels natural, law firms can navigate this new reality successfully.

    The adoption of virtual selling is not just a response to a crisis but an opportunity for law firms to redefine their client engagements, think more strategically about their differentiators, and elevate their standing in the digital era.

    Happy Selling!

  • October 24, 2023 8:18 AM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: LSSO Editorial Board Member Frederick J. Esposito, Jr., MBA, CLM | COO, Rivkin Radler LLP

    Now that we are living in a post-COVID virtual world, the legal profession has taken new twists and turns, but much to the profession’s credit, it has been one of the more successful change management initiatives ever encountered. The landscape of the profession has changed, which in turn has initiated several cultural shifts in how law firms take on new business. With client demands placing even greater pressure on engagement budgeting and pricing, law firms are stepping up to the challenges while balancing the need for profitability. All of this brings us back to the 2008 recession – we remember the collapse of the real estate market, how credit dried up, and how law firms struggled through a most difficult time. The new business model that followed created an atmosphere for commoditized work – thus creating opportunities for third-party legal service providers such as LegalZoom – but more importantly, we saw a shift in client expectations and the need for ‘alternative’ pricing. In response, we saw many alternative fee or fixed fee boutique law firms emerging, so the business model for law firms radically changed with a renewed attention to pricing, legal project management, efficiency, business development, more client focus, and the biggest one of them all – value. The considerations that stemmed from 2008 still ring true, and even stronger today. Business development has taken the front seat and while demand has been fluctuating the last few months, we are starting to see a steady increase in demand and now law firms must be ready to engage. Clients have become more discerning, which has created a very competitive market for providing legal services. 

    What Do We See Happening?

    First, clients, particularly General Counsel, continue to push back on fees, looking for more predictability and creative pricing. While Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs), now referred to as Fee Arrangements (FA), and Legal Project Management (LPM) have been around for quite some time, they are making another strong comeback. In addition, today we are seeing more focus on not only LPM as a tool for managing legal work and FAs, but we are now adding Process Improvement to the mix.

    Second, pricing is no longer about getting the right price for the services provided; it has become more strategic and more integral to the development, sustaining, and maintaining books of business. Process Improvement provides the methodologies for evaluating processes for maximizing efficiency and minimizing waste so legal services can be provided at reduced cost or, at minimum, providing solid cost metrics for determining favorable pricing for clients and profit for the law firm.

    “Without Data You’re Just Another Person with An Opinion.” – W. Edwards Deming

    With changes in the law firm business environment taking place at an increasing rate, law firms need to take deeper dives into client, employee, competitor, financial and technology data – and much more – to fully understand how their firms really work. With respect to pricing and profitability, law firms need data from these areas to understand the factors that contribute to the cost of producing legal services. Also, they need to understand what their competitors are doing so they can differentiate their firms in a legal market that is looking for– or expects – now that the dynamics have changed. More important, law firms need to understand how they are measuring profit – by firm or practice group? client or matter? originating or working timekeeper? How are expenses allocated? Law firms can discuss income statements and financial performance, but do they have the necessary data to analyze and address the issues of cost to produce legal services, qualify and quantify firm risk, ascertain predictability in spend for clients? And do clients perceive the value of the services provided for the FA proposed? Herein lies opportunities for law firms.

    Law firms will need to rise to a new level of operational proficiency to effectively price legal services. Some of the metrics to consider in our ascent: efficiency, client retention, legal market, collaboration, leverage. and ‘fiscal hygiene.’

    Pricing and Process Improvement – Aye, That’s the Ticket!

    While there is a rebirth of FAs and LPM, there is also more focus on efficiency now that law firms are working in a post-COVID virtual market. During the last recession, FAs and profitability could be hit or miss. This was attributed to a lack of formal structure or deep focus on pricing strategies other than going through firm historical data and trying to get in line with legal service budgeting. One of the benefits of working virtually has been the added perspective of being able to see inefficiencies or ‘waste’ in preparing/providing legal services that, in turn, can produce excessive and unnecessary costs that impact pricing and profitability. 

    The knee-jerk for many law firms is to implement ‘quick fixes’ due to the urgency of delivering timely work product, and whether law firms realize it or not, they are diving headlong into a Process Improvement and management mode. Process Improvement is the added ticket that allows firms to consider HOW they are producing legal services and WHAT they can do to improve how they create and deliver value to the client.

    Process Improvement is a systematic practice of analyzing workflows and the steps taken to produce the current outcome. Law firms analyze the steps searching for issues, problems, AND opportunities, which includes the review of data as noted above, and then solving those problems by creating opportunities that are then developed and implemented for a more improved and efficient workflow. LPM steps in so we can manage the new process for continued optimum performance. It is clear the relationship between urgency and arriving at innovation has created opportunities for law firms to make needed process changes that will benefit firms operationally, but even more so strategically, with improved processes for better pricing and maximum profitability.

  • September 25, 2023 2:45 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: LSSO Editorial Board Member Dave Whiteside Director, Client Growth & Success of CLIENTSFirst Consulting with Clinton Gary | Founder of Credo Consulting

    We have espoused for years that the two most valuable assets of a law firm are its collective relationships and experience. Like a track relay team passing the baton, relationships create opportunities and experience wins opportunities.  Before you can generate more revenue, you have to create and win more opportunities. That’s sales. And to amass a firm’s collective capabilities and select the most relevant to achieve the desired outcome. That’s experience management.   

    The question is - why don’t more firms invest in a robust experience management program to support their significant investment in their originating professionals – namely key client relationship partners, sales-oriented professionals, and marketing and business development teams – to create and win more opportunities? 

    How did we get here?

    “Experience Management” (EM) was initially seen as a non-billable activity instead of a strategic investment of time. Experience management was relegated to the discrete operational area of more efficient proposal creation. This short-sighted, tactical approach relegated most EM programs to mediocrity.

    Today, experience management is coming back to the forefront as firms have invested significantly in talent to meet more complex clients’ needs and service demands. EM leverages this investment by helping law firms expand their collective capabilities into a competitive advantage that drives growth.

    In this article, we cover how an experience management program can enhance each phase of the sales process and make a compelling case for firms to invest more in their EM programs to improve sales performance, create a more compelling experience for the buyer, and generate greater growth.   

    The Buying (Selling) Process

    Let’s utilize a sales model developed by Jason Mlicki, Principal with Rattleback, a marketing firm for professional services, which he calls the Arc of the Client’s Journey. The Arc represents the 4 stages a client goes through to become a client.

    1. Learning — Researching a big issue or critical business challenge.
    2. Vetting — Pre-qualifying potential solution providers.
    3. Discussing — Exploring their available options.
    4. Hiring — Negotiating an agreement to move forward.

    Let’s apply experience management to this process.

    #1 - LEARNING

    Historically, clients and professionals initiated conversations with outside counsel to create leads.  Today, clients research their issues via their preferred digital channels (before contacting outside counsel).

    How Experience Management Supports this Stage:

    • Law firms can create credible content, real-world case studies, and success storiesbased on experience, that demonstrates the firm's differentiating expertise and service in handling significant legal issues. This is important because “stories” are considered a more powerful form of content for engagement and persuasion. In this phase, an executive wants to find themselves in a story.
    • A good experience management program can help identify clusters of experiences that can serve as the foundation to develop effective industry-specific thought leadership.  And by “effective,” we mean the kind that is so compelling that it removes the buyer’s option of doing nothing, which is the greatest obstacle in the sales process.

    #2 – VETTING

    Once a buyer has framed an issue in their minds, they begin to assess the potential firms that emerge. This is where legal buyers filter firms by asking: 

    Do you understand my problem? Do you understand my business? Have you solved a problem like mine? Have you solved it for a company like mine?

    How Experience Management Supports this Stage:

    • Given that this vetting process is still predominantly performed though digital channels, a firm should manage its experience appropriately, so it can be offered through the firm’s website to empower the buyer to answer these questions. This includes the ability to do complex searches, such as “M&A (service) > Pharmaceuticals (industry) > Northeast (Geography).”  We see a significant number of searches that involve multiple variables and keywords.
    • Rankings can be painful in the creation of a compelling submission that actually represents the firm’s best recent experience. However, an EM program that is woven into the firm’s culture and attorney’s work processes makes rankings no longer a painful moment but a search of the database for relevant experience that only needs refinement.             

    #3 – DISCUSSING

    This is usually the phase when proactive connections and meaningful conversations begin to happen. These discussions may be conducted informally or formally (RFI/RFP) or a combination.

    How Experience Management Supports this Stage:

    • A robust EM database allows quick searches for “best of” experiences to form elevator pitches and conversational pieces that advance a more seamless and authentic process, rather than “Yes, we do that” or “Let me get back to you.” 
    • Expanding EM to include experience, skills, aspirations, availability and other valuable characteristics for each professional helps our lead professionals more easily identify colleague attorneys to bring into the conversation to advance the process with more in-depth knowledge.  This extends to strategically staffing engagements for diversity and talent, not bound by geographic and practice silos. Think of it as an “internal LinkedIn” for your firm.
    • When a proposal request does arise, an integrated EM system positions your marketing and BD team to respond to requests more efficiently and effectively that includes the “best of” experience at all levels and more detailed statistics on outcomes (i.e., matters to trial and won), avoiding the lead partner or professional from using precious political capital in fire drills for updated experience.           

    #4 – HIRING

    Here a potential client transitions from exploring their options through direct conversation to hiring a firm, team, and attorney and moving forward. This is when our professional leading the sales process needs to assemble a pitch team, negotiate details, and provide the client the confidence in our approach.

    How Experience Management Supports this stage:

    • Returning to the power of stories. In the pitch, will you show a 30 slide PowerPoint of bios and firm accolades?  OR will you spend time listening to their issues and needs, and tell stories of service and success (strategically selected and rehearsed for a compelling buyers experience), build trust, and get to “yes?”
    • EM programs that capture assets related to an experience or matter, such as a proposal, pricing calculation, and project plan can support more effective negotiations and efficient project management (“don’t reinvent the wheel”).   

    Law firms aspiringly espouse to being “One Firm”. This is challenging today in our ever-expanding and complex firms, as there is constant growth and change.  Success in today’s legal world demands the critical ability to harness and leverage the firm’s collective and individual experience and capabilities to bring “One Firm” to the sales process.

    To learn more from Dave and about CLIENTSFirst Consulting, click here.

  • August 23, 2023 12:25 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: David G. Kamien, CEO & Founder of Mind-Alliance Systems & Founding Member, LSSO SSSME Board*

    The relentless advance of technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), is not news. Yet, amid this revolution, a fundamental cornerstone still remains – data.

    Your firm's IT systems and content subscriptions house a gold mine of information, but problems such as inconsistent client names or misaligned metadata terms get in the way of optimally using this data. Without organized data, even the most advanced AI is rendered ineffective, adhering to the principle of garbage in, garbage out.

    Large language models (LLMs) and the Generative AI they power can quickly process, analyze and even generate human-like text from massive datasets. Imagine combining this AI with consistently named data thanks to the SALI ontology – an open-source standard ensuring that data across various platforms speaks the same language, enabling seamless integrations and insights.

    **The Power of Clean Data** 

    Mind-Alliance Systems estimates that law firms with consistent, clean data will enjoy a 70% faster response time to market shifts and a 45% increase in operational efficiency. This could mean swifter case resolution, more precise legal strategies, super-powered business development, and enhanced client satisfaction.

     **Navigating Ahead**

    The path to harnessing the future lies in our structured, 12-week accelerated project. It will enable your firm to craft a prototype that  is powered by well-organized, coherent data and by advanced AI to glean faster, better insights from your most valuable information. 

    Potential use cases include:

    • Searching for the right lawyers to staff a project based on structured and unstructured data stored in a knowledge graph and accessed via an AI chatbot

    • Filtering through your client base to strategically focus marketing and BD efforts on clients with the greatest revenue growth potential

    • Writing thought leadership alerts and articles efficiently by tapping into background reference data and ensuring that they resonate with target readers 

    By refining your data management strategy with our assistance, your firm –

    • Adapts more quickly to client needs,

    • Enables attorneys and administrative personnel to focus on higher value work, and

    • Positions itself as a beacon of innovation in the legal tech realm.

    You have the power to dramatically transform your firm's operations, client relations, and industry reputation.

     **Your Next Step**

    The journey might seem daunting, but the rewards are invaluable. Connect with experts who can guide your firm’s internal dialogue about your firm's data strategy and reliable AI applications. 

    The future beckons. With the right tools and strategy, your firm can lead the way. 

    *LSSO is privileged to have access to – and be supported by – numerous legal sales and service subject matter experts (SSSMEs). As a benefit to our members and the legal community at large, we have invited several of these industry-leading professionals to band together as a SSSME Board, which will regularly offer relevant and timely news, trends, strategies, and thought leadership on best practices as well as practical examples of what works…and what doesn’t.

  • July 17, 2023 5:23 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: Beth Cuzzone, Global Practice Group Leader, Deal Cloud at Intapp | Co-Founder of LSSO | Co-Chair of LSSO's Editorial Board | Member of LSSO's Board of Advisors

    The legal industry has witnessed a significant surge in lateral movement over the past decade, a trend that has dominated discussions in trade publications. However, as the lateral market cools down, it's essential to shift our focus to the next phase. While law firms have developed processes and protocols to better integrate new lateral hires, one crucial aspect has been often overlooked: integrating the client.

    Law firms are now recognizing the impact that lateral movement has on their clients. In many market studies, we see a 45% - 65% book of business attainment when moving firms. When lawyers transition from one firm to another, clients face a burden of uncertainty. Who are the new team members at the new firm? How does the billing cycle or software work? Which problems can the new firm handle best? Obtaining contact information for the new team of attorneys and professionals becomes a challenge. The list goes on. These issues give clients pause to simply follow the relationship partner to a new firm.

    To bridge the gap between an attorney's lateral move and client service, consider the following five suggestions:

    1. Abandon the "better platform pitch": Clients advise lawyers to steer clear of the "better platform pitch" when discussing their move to a new firm. Clients find this conversation disingenuous and prefer a frank discussion about the attorney's choice to leave their previous firm, rather than empty promises about the new firm's superiority.
    2. Earn work instead of assuming it follows: The days of work automatically following the relationship partner are gone. Clients are more likely to split their portfolio of work between the existing and new firms. Attorneys should be prepared to provide clients with a genuine list of matters that will be best handled by the new firm, along with concrete reasons why. Be prepared for a fulsome discussion with clients.
    3. Develop contingency plans: Acknowledge that clients may choose to keep matters with the existing law firm upfront. When a matter is staying with a firm, clients expect the relationship partner to invest time in the team without charging them. This demonstrates a commitment to maintaining continuity and ensures a seamless transition for clients.
    4. Create multiple touch points: During the initial months of a lateral's integration, their schedule may be hectic. Identify someone at the new firm who can be contacted by clients for questions and concerns that may not require involving the primary relationship partner. Having multiple touch points improves accessibility and client service.
    5. Engage clients in the conversation: Open dialogue with the client team at the new firm is crucial. Clients expect transparency, responsiveness, and accessibility. Maintaining consistent service levels during attorney transitions is vital, as any dip in quality may impact future work opportunities.

    By incorporating these recommendations into their lateral hiring strategies, law firms can ensure a smoother integration process for attorneys and provide a seamless experience for their clients. Ultimately, adopting a client-centered approach to lateral integration enhances client satisfaction and contributes to the long-term success of both the attorneys and the firm.

    Beth Cuzzone may be reached at Beth.Cuzzone@Intapp.com.

  • June 28, 2023 8:43 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: Silvia L. Coulter, Co-Founding Principal of LawVision; Co-Founder of LSSO; Co-Chair of LSSO's Board of Advisors

    Networking at the latest LSSO RainDance Conference sparked a lot of energy and enthusiasm, along with new opportunities to stay connected.

    Sharing stories within the industry is always useful and helps underscore we are doing the right things and advising our firms appropriately. It made me reflect on other ways to stay connected and to build new relationships.

    How about building new opportunities outside of the industry? There may be some great ways to pave the way for your future success. Opportunities don’t simply appear in our email or social media inboxes on a regular basis without us putting significant effort into building relationships and staying connected on a regular basis with at least 50+ contacts. That’s the advice we give to the lawyers at our firms.

    But what about you? How are you staying connected to your contacts? How are you building your network? It’s critical to your future success.

    Read on about some ways to build your network and to stay connected to contacts. In other words, follow your own advice and apply it to the future of YOU!

    1. Keep in touch with existing contacts. Print out all your contacts from LinkedIn, Outlook, other social media sources. Review these names and clean up your list. Then select at least 50 names of individuals with whom you will keep in touch. Consider: business colleagues, vendors, contacts at former businesses, peers at professional services firms, and community and family members. Then, connect with each of these individuals at least three times a year. Forward an interesting business article or blog post, reach out to just say hello how are you doing, and around the Q4 holidays, write a hand-written note and send a card. The inherent message is “you matter,” which is always well received. Keeping in touch means you have more of an opportunity to ask for a favor in the future. And people will think of you too.
    2. Build new relationships. Identify peers with your title at other professional services firms. Reach out and introduce yourself, connect with them on LinkedIn, and ask them to meet for an afternoon coffee, tea, or lunch. Building these relationships will lead to opportunities for both your firm and their firm to collaborate on future business development opportunities. Work with one another to help partners from your firms to meet. Some of my best business contacts came from building these relationships with Big Four, consulting, and engineering firm contacts.
    3. Connect with peers at client organizations. Building relationships with peers at your firm’s client organizations is a win/win. Reach out to the VP of Sales, or CMO, BD Director at these clients. You will have many things in common with one another and can ramp up conversations pretty quickly. Learning about their companies from their perspectives will be invaluable and provide you with many opportunities for your firm in the future. Learn how they manage their strategic accounts and what new initiatives their sales and marketing teams are rolling out. Then meet with your team and share best practices from industry perspectives.
    4. Meet with the leaders of industry organizations. Identify the organizations to which your firm belongs (or should belong) and schedule meetings with the executive directors to build relationships and to learn more about the organization, its goals, the industry it represents, and potential opportunities for staying connected. Keeping abreast of the world outside of legal is key. One never knows where opportunities are lurking!
    5. Respond to emails. If people are taking the time to reach out and connect with you, even if they are “selling” to you, take the time to reply before hitting the delete button. If you don’t wish to receive future emails, then unsubscribe. We all receive a lot of emails—respond with a “thanks for reaching out; we are not interested in this opportunity/product/service at this time. Please take me off your email list.” Some response is better than no response. Be polite and it will take you far.
    6. Connect your contacts with one another. As you review your contacts, spend time to think about who you may introduce to one another. It provides you with a reason to reach out, and lets others know you are thinking of them.
    7. Ask good contacts to introduce you to others. This is a great way to build your network. And it’s amazing how quickly your network will grow. What to say or ask? Simply, “I’d welcome your thoughts: as I continue to build my network, who do you think would be good for me to meet?” It’s that easy. Building our networks at any stage of our career lives is important to do. Ask and you will find people quite willing to introduce you to others. Remember quid pro quo!
    Implementing these ideas and staying connected will yield benefits in the long run. No one likes it when someone they have not heard from in a while all of a sudden needs a favor and reaches out. Be a giver and a connector for big returns.
  • May 25, 2023 3:27 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Ahead of his keynote presentation at this year’s RainDance Conference, Bob Wiesner, Managing Director - The Americas for The Artemis Partnership and author of "Winning is Better," a copy of which is included with each 2023 RainDance registration, spoke with LSSO’s Editorial Board Co-Chair Jill Zwetchkenbaum, Associate Business Development Manager for Mintz.

    Bob's keynote will focus on the importance of extending corporate relationships beyond the general counsel (GC), why conversations with the broader C-Suite matter now more than ever, why management consultancies have a strong advantage, and what your law firm can do to win trust, fend off the competition, and turn C-level conversations into opportunities for revenue growth.

    Jill: Why is your topic – C-Suite Conversations: Beyond the GC – such an important one for the legal industry?

    Bob:Today, there's more funding available for companies to hire outside law firms to advise on issues they may not be capable of handling in-house. So, there’s money to spend. And then mix that with the fact that the competition for legal services has never been fiercer. Advisory and accounting firms – from the ‘big four’ to the second and third tiers – continue to bulk up their capabilities to compete with law firms in several areas of client service, which only throws more chum in the water. These accounting and advisory firms have the ability to provide services that law firms would traditionally handle, including due diligence, aspects of transactions, contract and document drafting, and litigation and investigation support. Now more than ever law firms have to be especially sensitive to the importance of defending their current client base and leveraging today’s environment to retain, grow, and acquire business.

    Jill:Does the idea of ‘more money to spend’ and ‘more competition than ever before’ impact all law firms, no matter the size? What about industries? Practice areas?

    Bob: The business environment today presents a unique opportunity for firms of all sizes, industries, and practice areas. As markets get more and more competitive like they are today, in order to survive, firms must pivot or cast their business opportunity nets wider. Large law and advisory firms, who traditionally would only go for the ‘biggest fish,’ are now starting to target opportunities at a lower threshold than they would have before. Large firms may now consider clients or prospects who bring in, or could bring in, $500,000 or even $100,000 as equal priorities to the million-dollar clients or prospects. This muddies the water even further, as small to mid-size firms will start learning that big firms are suddenly interested in their client’s business.  

    So, while small and mid-size firms now must protect their clients more fiercely from the bigger firms pushing down into their competitive space, they also have an opportunity to push their way up into the larger spaces, if they are willing to make some adjustments in how – and where – they promote their value and how they communicate that value to a different group of decision makers. 

    Also, the GC and C-Suite are starting to care less about the brand name of their legal advisors, and more about who can help them solve the problem at hand.

    Jill: In your book “Winning Is Better” you talk a lot about relationships and that the key to winning pursuits is to cultivate strong relationships with decision-makers. What do strong relationships look like and how do they appear in practice in the legal industry and beyond? 

    Bob: The first thing to do is to decide if you want to build these relationships or not. I’ve advised senior partners across small, mid, and large professional service firms, and many of these partners have historically shown a reticence to talk to people like their client’s CEOs and CFOs, because, they say, “I don't know their business. I'm not an expert in what they do.” 

    Lawyers, in this case, must overcome that sentiment. While they may have expertise in their area of law, it must not limit them from initiating a business conversation with someone else in the C-Suite. In fact, it’s a critical access point today, to be able to share how a law or regulation impacts multiple areas of a business, and how to comply with the law or regulation to reduce risk. I assure you the C-Suite would love to hear their lawyers initiate a conversation like that, and they would be grateful for any help expanding their understanding of the challenges they face. Lawyers must be willing to drift out of their comfort zones and bring some perspective that can relate to the law but extends a bit beyond the law – such as practical business advice, given the law or regulation at hand – to start building these relationships with leaders other than the GC.

    In fact, if lawyers aren’t having these conversations with their clients, I can promise you that your competition is. For example, while non-lawyers – other professional service firms with whom clients work – can’t necessarily provide legal advice in the technical sense, they can – and do – identify key business issues for clients at a much lower cost…perhaps even over a beer…without the lawyer even involved, and therefore the law firm clock doesn’t even turn on to bill. More of this is continuing to happen, and I think everyone is feeling that right now. 

    Jill: Would you share a few examples of the types of conversations we should be engaging in with the C-Suite?

    Bob:I will talk in more detail about this at RainDance, but it’s incredibly important to be mindful of the questions you ask. They need to be unique and thoughtful. For example, they can’t be “What keeps you up at night?” or “What are your priorities?” Those are too general and, if you did your research, you’d already know the answers to both. Instead, add value by focusing the conversation on the lawyer’s unique observations given their experiences. Share what they’ve been seeing in the industry, how new developments in the law or in the business have impacted similar clients. Remember, we’re not necessarily expecting the lawyer to know the answer to the questions they are asking. Rather, it’s an honest inquiry into matters of interest, such as “Is XYZ important to you?” or “How has XYZ specifically impacted your organization?”

    What really matters, of course, is what you do with the answer. But you can’t get to that second step until you start engaging in conversations. 

    Jill: How have you seen the C-Suite evolve over the last decade?

    Bob:The C-Suite has always faced issues that required their lawyers to advise. But today, it’s more of a gray area. The issues the C-Suite faces are much more rooted in core business decisions that often have a legal aspect. The C-Suite is no longer as siloed as it once was, nor should it be. Successful companies HR, IT, Finance, and other business departments must involve the office of the GC in business decisions. In general, the C-Suite today has more influence over their GC’s business and law firm hiring decisions.

    And, by the same token, it should be going in both directions. GCs should be involving the C-Suite in everything they are doing as well. There is no benefit to being territorial and having your department be a mystery to everyone else.

    This concept also applies to client teams within law firms. So, let's recognize – and even embrace – the idea that even though you may be a real estate lawyer for ABC Company, you still have the right to inquire about matters involving the holistic success of that client, not just whether or not they should be subletting or selling a certain property.

    Jill: What do you hope RainDance attendees will take away from your keynote?

    Bob: Business professionals in the industry must recognize the importance of extending corporate relationships beyond the C-Suite and how – by not engaging – you are leaving money on the table.  

    I will be sharing specifics during the keynote, but, above all else, I want attendees to be willing to take action. Rather than going back to your desks and writing up revised business plans, I’d like attendees to feel like they have enough tools in their tool belts to immediately engage with the lawyers on these issues. It’s truly a win-win. That said, these won’t be easy conversations. You have to have a bit of courage to encourage many of the lawyers to take these steps. It may be easier for some, but not others, and I think that business development and marketing professionals can make it easier for them by providing prompts, materials, and information.

    At the end of the day – and all Raindance attendees likely have heard this before – if you're not continually taking steps to advance client relationships, you’re putting that very relationship at risk. My main concern now is that it may be even more at risk than it was years ago, because of the increase in non-law firms getting involved in matters that are not legal matters per se, but opportunities that may have been viewed years ago as in the exclusive purview of the law. No longer is this the case and we need to pay attention to that.

    Hear from Bob about the takeaways you can expect in his keynote!

    Register for RainDance TODAY > www.legalsales.org/2023RainDance!

  • April 19, 2023 5:00 PM | Michele Bisceglie (Administrator)

    Author: Jeff Berardi, Partner, Baretz+Brunelle | LSSO Editorial Board Member

    I’m not going to sugarcoat it – being a law firm Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer (CMBDO) isn’t easy.  And things aren’t getting any less challenging as economic uncertainty prevails and the performance expectations of law firm leaders continue to grow.  When you examine the typical responsibilities that fall within the purview of the CMBDO position, you’ll notice that it is a lengthy list, and seemingly getting longer.  Heads of marketing often maintain oversight for internal/external communications, business development, client relations, digital marketing, brand/design, campaign management, and much more.  It’s no wonder that CMBDOs and legal marketing professionals have been experiencing record levels of pressure and stress in recent years.  However, I’m convinced that there are certain steps that CMBDOs can proactively take to heighten motivation and enhance enjoyment of this deeply rewarding role.

    As a former law firm executive, one of things that I appreciate most about my consulting practice is that I get to work with a substantial number of marketing/BD leaders who hail from a variety of different law firms.  No matter the size, practice focus, or geographic footprint, I’ve realized that there are shared challenges that many CMBDOs are wrestling with at the moment.  In this article, I identify three of the most common obstacles and provide some guidance and suggestions for how best to overcome these potential barriers to success: 

    1. Recruiting and retaining talent
    2. Allocating resources: time, energy, and priorities
    3. Aligning marketing/BD activities to drive results

    For each section, I have also included a checklist of questions for consideration.  There are no easy solutions, but the reality is that it’s sometimes easier to diagnose and treat the problem when you are viewing it from a completely objective and unbiased perspective. 

    Challenge #1: Recruiting and Retaining Talent

    Simply put, this is one of the biggest drains on the energy and level of focus of law firm marketing leaders – massive amounts of time are spent on efforts to recruit and retain marketing/BD team members.  Looking back over the last several years, there has been a great deal of churn in the industry, and it is more difficult than ever to keep gifted team members satisfied and protected from competitors who are looking to poach capable talent.  Although moderately high levels of turnover have always existed to some degree in the legal marketing/BD space, market dynamics related to COVID have exacerbated the situation.  Many firms are now experiencing a vicious cycle in which they resort to paying more to recruit talented professionals, only to find that they may have lost some of their current team members to a competitor who is employing the exact same tactics.  In an environment where many law firm marketers don’t expect to stay at the same firm for more than a few years, the net effect is that it can create a lot of tension within the organization and can have an adverse impact on law firm culture to have people come and go so frequently.

    So, what can law firm CMBDOs do about this challenge?  For starters, there is a lot of research that indicates that professionals who experience a greater sense of purpose in their roles are more likely to stay in their positions.  To that end, I recommend supporting initiatives that help to cultivate that shared sense of purpose, such as involving people more frequently in projects, and clearly communicating goals and objectives as well as some context for how individuals fit into the big picture – all which can go a long way toward improving motivation and reducing turnover.  It requires a dedicated effort, however, to encourage more junior team members to learn about the role that they play in the strategic vision of the department or the firm.  The wonderful thing about this solution is that it often doesn’t require a major investment from the firm to accomplish this goal. 

    Another suggestion is to ask employees for their honest feedback on what they like or don’t like about their respective roles.  I recommend using an anonymous survey to collect this information, so that team members can voice their true opinions without fear of retaliation from managers or supervisors.  A recent article in law.com notes the benefits of obtaining feedback and offers other ideas for consideration.  On a separate but related note, training and professional development opportunities are an excellent way to demonstrate that you care about the growth and well-being of team members at various levels within the organization.  This need not be limited to marketing, sales, and service members.  For instance, business development workshops designed to assist partners or associates with growing client relationships can serve a dual purpose by also giving marketing/BD team members a viable framework to use for their ongoing coaching and support. 

    Key questions to ask:

    • Does the department have a clear and well-defined strategic vision for the department that is connected to broader firm goals?
    • Do team members understand and embrace a sense of purpose?
    • What training and professional development opportunities is the firm providing – and – is it enough to keep team members motivated and “sticky” within the organization?

    Challenge #2: Allocating Resources – Time, Energy, and Priorities

    Another longtime challenge for law firms is that they frequently find themselves juggling limited business development and client growth resources who are expected to support a multitude of offices, practice groups, and industries/sectors.  Striking the appropriate balance between these competing demands is imperative.  One of the issues is that many law firms are structurally organized by practice groups or office locations; conversely, most clients self-identify by industries or sectors. This dynamic creates a bit of a mismatch between how the law firm is internally structured and how they should be positioning their services as part of an external client-facing go-to-market strategy.  It also creates a management dilemma – if the firm’s P&L exists at the practice level, how will industry groups be led, supported by marketing/BD, and properly evaluated so that there is the proper level of oversight and accountability for these important initiatives?

    The firms that are getting this right have been able to fund, design, and advance multi-practice and multi-disciplinary campaigns that are focused on key industries and sectors.  If executed well, these efforts pinpoint issues and challenges that clients and prospects care deeply about, featuring topics and trends that have the potential to affect businesses across an entire sector.  Another reliable method is to develop content intended for narrow target audiences within sub-practice groups (think Fintech, Renewable Energy, Data Privacy, etc.).  If firms are overly broad in their approach to thought leadership, they may discover that clients consider the content to be rudimentary and are less likely to engage.

    Before you can devise and execute such campaigns, you need to ensure that you are effectively integrating activities across the client service, BD, and sales functions.  In addition, you need to be able to contend with partners who expect (or demand) support for practice-driven requests, which can frequently be administrative rather than strategic in nature.  A major area of focus should be to prioritize department activities by defining which efforts are high in value and return, and which are of lower benefit to the firm and should be modified or perhaps even removed from the equation entirely.  This can be done by scoring each project on a scale of 1 – 10 for its impact on the business and then rescoring based on each project’s relative ease of implementation.  Another important factor is to make sure that you educate the firm’s internal clients (its lawyers) about a potential shift to a more client-centric approach.  Developing and conveying a robust internal communications strategy is a critical element to ensure that you achieve management support for any changes to the traditional service delivery model.

    Key questions to ask:

    • Have you achieved full alignment between your marketing, business development, and client-facing (sales) activities to ensure that all functions are operating in a collaborative way?
    • Are you prioritizing high-value activities and finding ways to reduce the time the marketing/BD team spends on lower-value (often administrative) efforts?
    • Have you properly communicated with your lawyers that a shift is being made to support more industry go-to-market efforts (and why that’s important), and the impact that might have upon individuals or practice areas that may have traditionally been supported to a greater degree?

    Challenge #3: Aligning Marketing/BD Activities to Drive Results

    The age-old question of how to demonstrate ROI is perhaps the most difficult nut for law firm CMBDOs to crack.  In other words, how can law firms more clearly tie their marketing/BD efforts to revenue growth?  It sounds remarkably simple, but ROI is often very difficult to track, measure, and prove.  Still, the better and more equipped CMBDOs have made solid progress on this front, and we should take note of what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.  For starters, those that have been successful have often invested in building or buying new technology tools that enable marketing team members to connect BD activities to new matters opened, track the effectiveness of marketing/BD/sales campaigns, and report upon the overall contribution and value of a department, function, or client team.  In addition, the most capable CMBDOs are successfully using digital marketing strategies to their full potential.  They are tracking and measuring their progress – such as by generating and managing leads, through enhanced email automation and targeted paid social media campaigns – and they are actively reporting to firm management their impact and overall results. 

    Are you worried that this is too heavy of a lift?  If so, here are a few simple things you can do to get started.  Begin by capturing all expenses that go into a dedicated marketing and BD campaign.  This includes any costs to develop thought leadership, sponsorships, events, travel for lawyers/BD professionals, etc.  From there, you need to make sure that you determine if any new matters are opened as a direct result of this campaign.  This entails connecting new matters to activities related to the campaign initiative.  In some cases, you may wish to assign a grading system that asks lawyers to rank the influence that the campaign had on landing the matter – is it 75%, 50%, 25%?  Once that percentage is assigned, it’s a relatively simple calculation to establish the overall campaign value from the new revenue that was generated.  Importantly, you will want to deduct the costs from the new revenue to show net impact.  Keep in mind that it isn’t solely about revenue growth – the impact might be measured by other factors as well such as increased awareness, greater client engagement, an uptick in proposals or meetings, etc.  But the number that firm management will most care about is undoubtedly going to be new revenue, so be sure to track and measure that wherever possible.

    On the sales front, there has been a lot of discussion over the past decade about whether firms should create a client-facing sales team made up of business executives.  Although it may be true that there are a greater number of business professionals who have client-facing roles, the expansive sales teams that we’ve heard about in recent years have not come to fruition. The firms that have gained traction often employ sales teams that are small, nimble, and focused, usually consisting of just a few people who are exclusively devoted to generating leads and driving new business opportunities.  Nevertheless, lots of firms continue to be curious about whether they should launch a client-facing sales team.  It has been encouraging to see that more marketing/BD roles have opportunities for direct interaction with the firm’s external clients, but we still have a long way to go on this front.  Regardless of the exact nature of the role, I have long believed that business professionals can add value to the client relationship in a variety of ways

    Key questions to ask:

    • Is the team directly connecting revenue generated through marketing/BD? 
    • Is the team tracking new matters opened with corresponding financial data?
    • Does the team have a clearly defined digital marketing blueprint for the next 1-3 years?
    • Knowing your firm and attorneys, what are the benefits of having a client-facing sales team?
    • Does it fit with the culture of the firm, and will you be able to find the right people for the role?

    The Bottom Line

    Law firm CMBDOs are frequently confronted with challenges that can distract from strategic priorities and get in the way of making progress.  Common struggles include retaining and motivating team members, determining the right balance of support between practice and industry initiatives, and demonstrating ROI for firm management or other key stakeholders.  Have the staffing-related ups and downs of the past few years have had a damaging effect on marketing team members?  If so, offer more purpose and training opportunities.  Are you straining to adequately support practices, regions, and industries?  Prioritize key industry groups and educate internally about the shift to a more client-centric approach.  Having a hard time measuring ROI or defining the contribution of your team?  Build or buy technology tools that more clearly connect financial data and new matters opened to marketing activities.

    In closing, I want to convey to my clients and friends – you are not alone.  Having spent 13 years as the CMO of a global law firm, I understand that it can feel a bit lonely in this role.  That said, it’s important to realize that others are in a similar boat.  By asking the right questions and by making some small modifications to your approach, you can overcome these common challenges and reduce the inevitable stress that accompanies the law firm CMBDO role.

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