Monday, August 28, 2017

Top 5 Best Ways to Fuel Law Firm Growth (Other Than Strategic Lateral Hiring

In this extraordinarily competitive market for outside legal services, to remain profitable and competitive, law firms need to continually reassess, recalibrate, and focus their limited resources on the best and most promising assets, which consist of both the firm’s lawyers and strategic opportunities with clients and prospects. In this market, outside lawyers and law firms that 1) remain in a primarily reactive mode, doing the billable work on their desks, while mainly waiting and hoping for new work to come in the door, and 2) are not making strategic investments  - are increasingly losing clients, market and/or client share.  
In the more than 30 years since the Bates v. Arizona decision allowed attorney advertising, there is now a significant body of knowledge that proves what works best for law firms and lawyers if they wish to develop consistent new business, remain competitive, and grow. So, based on this body of knowledge, other than strategic lateral hiring, what works best and what are the best ways to fuel law firm growth?

  1. Your client’s voice. The world’s most profitable law firms have an organized program in place to regularly obtain and use client feedback. These programs do not need to be involved or cumbersome. To learn the best ways to gather and use client feedback in a cost-effective manner, register to attend this webinar, “Best Practices to Improve Your Firm's Marketing & Business Development ROI” being held on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 from 12 Noon to 1:15 p.m. EDT.
  2. Annual business plans. If your firm requires an annual plan from every partner and/or lawyer, but they “sit on a shelf” and are reviewed only at compensation time, there are proven tactics to make better use of them, so that more consistent and measurable new business will be generated over the course of a year. To learn the changes your firm can make to get the best use and results from your firm’s annual plans, register for the webinar linked above.
  3. Focus your resources on firm lawyers who 1) want to develop new business, 2) have a propensity for or a track record of doing so, and 3) are willing to devote non-billable time on strategic and targeted efforts. To learn specific ways to identify these lawyers in your firm, register to attend our upcoming webinars.
  4. Implement challenges and awards. Organizing a simple monthly or quarterly challenge in your firm to help attain client service, cross-selling, and/or new file-opening objectives is a proven way law firms use to get desired results. To learn how to organize and implement an award and/or challenge, register to attend this webinar, “Proven Ways to Motivate Lawyers to Cross-Service and Cross-Sell” being held Wednesday, September 13, 2017 from 12 noon to 1:15 EDT.
  5. Investment is required. To continue to thrive and grow, law firms must strategically invest both non-billable time and money. But many law firms continue to struggle to refine and focus their business development investments in the most effective way.
Our upcoming webinars will take a deep dive into the proven strategies and tactics law firms should fund and implement in 2018 and beyond. Register for both upcoming webinars before COB September 12, 2017 and get a 10% discount!

P.S.     Our webinars are highly rated by the over 70% of the Am Law 200, over 60% of the largest law firms in Canada, and lawyers and law firm professionals from the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and South America who have attended them!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Clients Increasingly Initiating Predictability & Control for Outside Counsel Legal Spend


Recently, some mega-companies announced significant organized efforts to reduce their company’s total annual legal spend by moving more work to outside law firms, lawyers, and other providers on fee arrangements other than the billable hour (AFAs or alternative fee arrangements). In the process, many companies are also identifying where unbundling their legal needs can create efficiencies, and reducing the total number of outside law firms, lawyers, and other providers they use.

Two companies in the news recently doing this are Microsoft and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). But in recent years, several other Fortune 10-100 companies have also been working hard to move their significant volume of outside legal work on fixed or flat fees.

So, the three related trends below are not new, but they are increasing significantly in pace, sophistication, and voracity:
1. Moving more or all work to AFAs,
2. Unbundling legal needs, and
3. Reducing the total number of outside firms/lawyers used. 

Law firms that remain in a mainly reactive posture, simply waiting for clients to send them an RFP or RFQ, risk falling behind the curve and being left behind. If your firm can use experienced assistance creating and implementing a proactive strategy and plan to ensure you do not lose significant client work and share in the future, please contact me, Julie Savarino.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Benefits of Using a Personal Business Development Coach – Are You Coachable?©

Many lawyers, law firm marketers, and other highly educated professionals mistakenly assume that once they graduate from college or law school or earn their CPA, all they need to do to be successful is to practice. This may be true for the elite in their field – a very select few. But for the vast majority of lawyers and other professionals, history demonstrates that college or graduate degrees alone do not necessarily guarantee success. True success is a lifelong process, and many subjects and skills not taught in school are required for a person to be truly successful.

One such critical skill is the ability to get new clients and/or new work. Without the ability to secure, develop, maintain, and retain a client relationship, all the credentials and schooling in the world will still leave a practitioner with little to work on. Without clients, there are no problems for you to counsel or advise on, solve, or resolve. So sales, client development, or business development (whichever phrase you use to define the processes of developing qualified leads and getting new work in the door) are fundamental and crucial skills and disciplines for all professionals.

The most effective and successful professionals – whether they are practicing lawyers, CPAs, business advisers, sales coaches, consultants, or in-house marketers – have at least three traits in common:
1.         They are personally committed to self-development and continual learning.
2.         They are self-disciplined and willing to work with others to complement and augment their own capabilities.
3.         They work to be effective communicators and are willing to address difficulties in working relationships as they arise.
The bottom line is that personal attitude, mind-set, capability, and commitment over time are crucial to attaining any degree of success in business development or any other field.

So, would you benefit from a personal business development coach? Ask yourself:

1.      Do I already know all there is to know about “sales” and client development? Too many professionals assume that selling is nothing but common sense and instantly think to themselves, “Yes, I think I do know everything I need to know about developing business – it’s just common sense,” and don’t pursue ongoing formal training or coaching. However, the fact is that client/business development is a specialty, both a science and an art, just like the practice of law or other professions. For example, when the field of life sciences emerged, were legal experts already in place? Hardly – those lawyers who were interested specialized in the field, conducted personal study, took continuing legal education courses on the subject, and gained the experience to become competent and eventually experts. The same is true for business development, which is a science that arguably came to the forefront in professional services fields approximately 30 years ago. Consequently, the practice of business development for the professions has become increasingly sophisticated and complex.

If you answered no to question #1 and you do think there is more you could learn to improve your performance in the client/business development area, ask yourself: “What is it that I don’t know?” Studies have shown that the more educated people are, the more they THINK they know about any given subject, when in fact they actually know less than a person of average education. Bottom line: we don’t know what we don’t know until we know it. In other words, knowing a lot about a subject and doing it well are two separate issues. If you accept that there may be things about client/business development that you don’t know or may want to improve, you have the right attitude to enhance your performance and results.

2.      What are my NATURAL abilities/aptitudes, and what areas do I need to work on? The best strategy is to focus on and maximize your natural gifts while being aware of and making efforts to minimize those traits that may negatively affect your performance. If you are a natural “people person,” you are relatively unique, in that people with those skills represent a fairly small percentage of the general population and an even smaller percentage of lawyers and other professionals. Most professionals are more naturally cerebral and consequently need to work on developing their people skills. Even if you have natural people skills, in this competitive environment, if you do not know the proposal process (both reactive and proactive) and/or do not close the sale, all the people skills in the world will not be as effective as they could be in building your book of business. If you are not sure of your natural skills and abilities in the client/business development area, a professional, thorough assessment will help you gain insight.

3.      Do I respond well to suggestions/ideas? Or am I already set in my ways or mentally stuck? The answer to this question is what makes the difference between someone who will benefit from training and coaching and someone on whom it will largely be wasted. At most law firms, 5 to 10 percent of partners are highly resistant to input and suggestions on business development subjects and feel fully capable themselves without help. In this highly competitive environment, if you are a partner who is resistant to any assistance in client/business development AND develops at least $2 million annually in new business, keep doing what you are doing! Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Often, it is those lawyers who need to adapt and enhance their skills the most who are the greatest naysayers or put up the most resistance.

In this world of consolidating legal and professional services, bringing in business, and developing and maintaining client relationships are no longer optional for any partner, any professional striving for partner status, or any law firm marketer/business developer coaching lawyers to bring in new work.

Register to attend this webinar - “Best Practices in Sales Coaching for Law Firm Marketers/Business Developers” being held Wednesday, August 23, 2017 from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.

About the Author: Julie Savarino is an attorney and renowned Rainmaker Coach. She is one of the world’s most highly recommended RFP, “sales”, and new business development coaches and consultants for lawyers and law firms. If you like this post, check out and "like" Julie’s Facebook page @therainmakercoach.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Increase Law Firm Revenues by Enhancing Client Service Touchpoints, Upgrading Sales Coaching & Conducting an Assessment©



Below are five common client service touchpoints that every client experiences when working with a lawyer and law firm. Review them and ask yourself:
  • How well do I perform during each of these?
  • Do I leave each client feeling good about working with me?
  • Most important, do I know which three touchpoints clients rate highest and value most?
Knowing and improving the client experience during the three most important touchpoints can make a major difference in a lawyer’s and law firm’s reputation, revenues, referrals, and profitability. Here are those five common client service touchpoints:

  1. Initial Meeting – Did the potential client feel understood, cared about, and important, and have a sense of trust and confidence that the lawyer can help?
  2. Hiring the Lawyer – Did the potential client feel as though he/she knew what to expect, the approximate total cost/fees, what the lawyer would be doing, and when the lawyer would get back to him/her?
  3. Working with the Lawyer – Was the client able to get timely access to the lawyer at any time? Was the lawyer responsive, and did he/she have an appropriate “bedside manner”?
  4. End of Case/Matter – Did the client feel like the lawyer/firm went over and above what was originally expected? Was something added/given beyond what the client initially expected?
  5. Final Bill/Invoice – Did the client recover more than originally expected? Was the total amount the client paid clear, straightforward, fair, and reasonable considering the result?
If you want to learn what the top three most important touchpoints for clients are and specific, proven ways every lawyer can improve them, register for this webinar being presented by Julie Savarino, one of the world’s highest-rated and most-recommended business development advisors, speakers, trainers, and coaches for lawyers and law firms. Identify& Upgrade Your Client Service Touchpoints to Ensure Client Satisfaction,Increase Referrals & New Business for Lawyers©, being held Wednesday, July 26, 2017 – 12 Noon to 1:15 p.m. Eastern.
 
ΓΌ     Best Practices in Providing Sales Coaching to Lawyers©, being held Wednesday, August 23, 2017 – 12 Noon to 1:15 p.m. Eastern.
ΓΌ     Best Practices to Improve Your Firm’s Marketing & Business Development Return on Investment (ROI)©, being held Wednesday, September 20, 2017 – 12 Noon to 1:15 p.m. Eastern, featuring guest speaker Jennifer Petrone Dezso of the renowned BTI Consulting Group.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day in America - U.S. Law Firms and Lawyers Support the U.S. Military and Veterans*


For lawyers whose practice already includes representing members of the military and/or veterans or for those lawyers/law firms interested in doing so, the American Bar Association (ABA) website offers over 7,000 resources which can be accessed by visiting the site and typing “Veterans” in the search bar.  Many state bars have also developed either heroes’ and/or heroes’ and veterans’ assistance programs, for example the state bars of Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina.

Also, pro bono representation opportunities to help veterans and their families abound.
Every lawyer, law firm, law firm and legal industry employee can help support U.S. troops and veterans if they so desire. There are many great ways to do so, and many pro bono efforts/charities/groups exist. Excellent and bona fide pro bono and/or volunteer programs that support veterans can be found by contacting:  The American Legion (http://www.legion.org/troops/volunteer); the VFW (http://www.vfw.org/Community/Get-Involved/); the ABA (www.americanbar.org) and/or state bars. To volunteer and/or donate in the most productive manner, be sure to first verify the group/organization (because not all veterans’ charities/organizations use/apply their donations legitimately). Websites to visit to verify charities’ track records include: the American Institute of Philanthropy, Charity Navigator and/or GuideStar.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Julie Savarino is a lawyer and renowned business developer who helps law firms and lawyer new generate revenue by serving as a professional business developer, coach, trainer, program developer and strategist. She had the privilege and honor of serving pro bono as chief communications officer for Snyder v. Phelps and related efforts. Julie can be reached at (734) 668 7008 or Julie@BusDevInc.com. If you like this post, check out and "like" Julie’s new Facebook page @therainmakercoach where she will be posting useful and valuable "sales" and business development tips and content for lawyers, law firm marketers and law firms all year long!


EXCERPT – from an article published in the November 2012 issue of Strategies, The Journal of Legal Marketing, www.legalmarketing.org

Monday, May 8, 2017

Improve ROI by Reorganizing the Law Firm Business Development Department?©

   
Many law firms employ in-house marketing/business development support professionals or have an entire in-house marketing/business development department. The current industry-wide ratio of lawyers to law firm marketers/business developers is around 25 to 1, but in many firms the ratio is much higher, up to around 50-75 to 1.  

Most in-house marketing/business development support professionals are still generalists who are expected to oversee and implement all marketing and business development efforts. But increasingly, specialists are being hired for one specific marketing function, such as events, RFPs and proposals, pricing analysts, business and competitive intelligence researchers, and/or client-facing executives tasked with developing leads and manage a pipeline.

A recent study of large law firm chief marketing officers found that at least 50% of their law firm marketing departments are understaffed, overworked and mainly reactive in fulfilling lawyers’ requests. And as a result, most do not have the time or the bandwidth to proactively address important strategic initiatives and projects in this incredibly competitive market. 

Many contributing factors are creating this road to burnout, one of which is the current organizational structure of a firm’s marketing/business development department. To improve ROI, various firms are:
  1. Separating the marketing department operations/management role into a separate position. 
  2. Centralizing all marketing support staff into a shared services model, often in a low-cost location, and/or, 
  3. Hiring sales executives and specialists to work with certain key practice and industry groups.
One global law firm recently announced the reorganization of its entire business development support function into three new departments: marketing, sales, and communications. What are the benefits and drawbacks of this new organizational model? And will other law firms follow suit? The firm is betting that separating its entire business development function into three new departments will improve the ROI and best serve the firm’s partners and lawyers. The three reorganized departments’ roles are as follows:
  1. MARKETING - The marketing department’s purpose is to generate awareness about the firm and its lawyers, position the lawyers, and generate new leads/interest/opportunities/inquiries. This department will oversee and handle all the most common awareness-generating and positioning tools used by law firms and lawyers, such as events, advertising, promotions, sponsorships, a CRM system and list creation.
  2. SALES - The sales department’s purpose is to maintain, enhance and expand key relationships. This department will handle all client-facing activities such as RFPs and proposal response and generation; client teams, reviews and interviews; business and competitive intelligence; pricing; referral and alumni programs; and trade show participation.
  3. COMMUNICATIONS - The communications department will oversee and handle all internal and external communications, public relations, media, etc. It will also house the firm’s online presence management function, including website maintenance and social media.
There is no one perfect organizational structure for law firm business development, but this one may still pose some challenges and redundancy issues, such as:
  1. Both marketing and sales rely on and use communications constantly, so how will overlap and/or redundancy be streamlined and/or avoided?
  2. Where will graphics/graphic design be housed? Each of the three departments above use graphics and graphic design routinely.
  3. What about technology and leveraging data? Again, these increasingly critical functions impact and are used by each of the three departments above.
  4. The #1 greatest source of new business for most law firms over the past few years is growth by acquisition/merger. But these important revenue drivers do not seem to be classified by this firm as “business development” or housed in one of the three new departments.
  5. Although only lawyers (usually only partners) can review and clear conflicts, it is important that the firm’s sales team have direct and formal working relationship with the firm’s conflicts department so that sales team members can make requests for conflicts reports to be run and sent to certain lawyers.
Creating an efficient and effective law firm business development department is time- and resource-consuming, as is identifying, hiring and training effective law firm marketing and business development talent. 

To learn more about assessing the effectiveness of your firm’s current business development organizational structure and how doing so may benefit your firm’s bottom line, please contact the author, Julie Savarino.

More Resources – 
Selective outsourcing can improve ROI, check out our BD Workforce services.




Monday, April 17, 2017

Effective “Sales” is A Lot Like Baseball©

With spring training in full swing, this article focuses on how successfully developing new legal work is a lot like playing baseball. Here’s how:

§  Having a Winning Season – For a baseball team to have a winning season, all players and staff need to perform at their peak. The same is true for lawyers and law firms. Every attorney and staff member can contribute to new business development in one way or another to help ensure the firm has an excellent year. But if lawyers and staff members do not fully understand their roles and expected contributions, they may not perform at their peak and the firm may not have as successful a year as hoped.
 
§  Spring Training – Some baseball players show up to spring training camp in top shape, while others use spring training as a means to reclaim peak performance. The same is true for lawyers and law firms when it comes to new business development: many engage in what they define as business development only when they have time or feel like it. But in order to “play” effectively, it is important for lawyers to get and stay “in shape,” i.e., to put in the work to hone their knowledge and skills all year long.
 
§  Recruiting Star Players – When a Major League Baseball team acquires new talent, the team devotes significant and very focused time and resources to guiding, instructing and teaching the new player in order to ensure success. Most major law firms also rely heavily on lateral hires/acquisitions to fuel growth. Yet based on numerous survey findings and the continuing turnover of many lateral partners, few law firms have an effective lateral integration and development processes to ensure success for their (very expensive) laterals.
 
§  Understanding the Rules of the Game – Baseball players have a deep, master-level understanding of the playing field and all the nuances associated with the game. Most lawyers realize new business development is a relationship “game,” but they do not know all the ins and outs or the proven science of successful attorney-client and/or attorney-referral source relationships. Nor do they fully understand the process of new business development – which is in fact, like both baseball and the practice of law, a linear, proven and relatively predictable process.
 
§  Scoring – While hitting a grand-slam home run in baseball is ideal, it’s not the norm – it is the exception, which is why proven home-run hitters are paid so much. The majority of runs in baseball are scored after a series of fielded hits that allow the players to advance from base to base. The same is true for effective business development for lawyers. Rarely (if ever) will a company or client assign a lawyer all their outside legal work (the equivalent of hitting a home run in baseball). Instead, they normally offer a much smaller piece of work (a “base hit”), perhaps one case/matter or a conflict situation, which gives the lawyer the chance to prove his or her capabilities to the client and perhaps further develop the relationship.
 
§  Fielding Starters, but Having Backup – Without knowing each player’s skill set – exactly which player is best at which skill – most baseball teams will flounder. The same is true for law firms, the majority of which still expect each and every one of their lawyers to engage in what they define as new business development: speaking, writing and attending conferences, seminars and events. But these are really more marketing or awareness-generating activities, which many lawyers do not enjoy, like or excel at. In addition, many lawyers do not have a clearly designated backup lawyer(s) for every client, case or matter in the event that they get injured or are out of the game for any reason.
 
§  Practicing in the Batting Cage – To ensure peak results when going to bat, baseball players use the batting cage regularly to hone and refine their skills. Lawyers interested in becoming the best rainmakers or business developers they can be also need to regularly practice and hone their skills. There are numerous proven resources available for lawyers and law firms to assess, review, and/or upgrade their new business development program and initiatives.
 
Just like baseball players and their team, with focus, discipline, hard work and a little luck, you and your firm can become even greater champions!
 
About the author:  Julie Savarino is an attorney and an internationally renowned expert in client and business development for lawyers, law firms and other professional services entities. Throughout her 30 years of practice, she has helped lawyers and firms generate millions of dollars in new business through her internationally renowned assessment, strategy, training, coaching and other consulting services. www.BusDevInc.com.