Business Development at Legal Firms – An Umbrella View
Disclaimer: The views of the author are personal.
I am often asked – what really is your role as Business Development/ Brand Development (BD) – Manager in a legal firm? Many have also addressed me as HR or Communication Consultants and honestly it’s perfectly fine to be confused about what BD is all about at a law firm where only law prevails because BD is an EVOLUTION. An evolution that is the need of the hour thus there is less clarity on this new flavour of the season.
BD is a gamut of strategy, marketing, communication and visibility of the firm with existing clients and a way to increase the clientele. With the mushroom of new law firms entailing of young talent who are nimble with their approach at technology and marketing, the older and top tier firms of the country are gearing up to sustain what they have built over the years.
Strategy is a vague term but used massively across sectors left alone the legal world. Strategy is mainly to relate to your clients, know them and understand what will work to keep them around.
First rule of marketing is the sleek and polished collateral we send to our clients in any format, be it a business cards, a firm profile, an engagement letter or a thank you email. A senior lawyer once told me every document that is sent from our inbox becomes a marketing collateral for the client. Your logo and your content is what matters, the content is a lawyers responsibility but the format and the logo is yours. Choose the right prominent colors for your logo and the reader friendly formats for your documents. Impress people you work with. Stay in touch. And wait.
Communication about the deals/ matters a firm is doing is very important to be circulated internally and externally. Internal circulation is for lawyers to know who the firm is dealing with and external for visibility in the market for existing and potential clients to know the deals the firm is opining on. Get your contacts with the media right, the top print media should be on your speed dial. As soon as the deal is over get clients approval to send it to the media. Do note client approval again enhances your relationship with him and also increases your credibility for the client to come back to you.
With the onset of the social media, firms have got a novel platform to showcase the kind of work each firm does. International legal journals now are interested in Indian markets and they speak to clients for feedback on the various firms they deal with. Make sure you are visible to your clients all the time to be visible in the market/ media and vice versa. Client events are a must for each practice area for them to remember us. Use the social media to speak about your laurels and your articles written by the attorneys which get published in various platforms. Get Famous. Make Contacts. Repeat.
In an era where lawyers where famous with not only their cases and appearance in courts but with word of mouth to now when visibility of each lawyer adds to the brand development of the firm, the legal industry has come a long way. But according to the Constitution of India as only indirect marketing of the firms are allowed firms are struggling with marketing or may I say Business Development.