In 2021 we saw law firm merger activity increase after the pandemic slowed things down in 2020, and industry experts are predicting an even bigger uptick in 2022. With that in mind, how can marketing and business services leaders successfully navigate organizational transformation from small acquisitions to massive multi-firm mergers?
At the Thomson Reuters Marketing Partner Forum, we had the pleasure of sitting in on a fantastic session with Michael Ellenhorn (Decipher), Jennifer Castleberry (Foster Garvey PC), Jason Noble (ikaun), Anne K. Schuster (Thompson Coburn LLP), and Lee Watts (Smith, Gambrell & Russell LLP).
See below a few key takeaways:
Marketing can be the bridge to bring people together: This can be done through formal lunches, impromptu coffees OR even with fun events like 15 minute speed dates with people from around the firm. Mix it up and facilitate meaningful connections. These go a long way!
Clearly communicate the 'Why?': The first step is understanding why the merger is happening. Whether it's to go global, expand a sector, reach new markets, or financial woes it's down to marketing and business services to create a compelling narrative around the positives and opportunities in the transformation.
Address uncertainty early on - Internally and externally: This comes back to communication. Externally, you've got to effectively communicate why the merger benefits your clients and their business. Equally as important, you need to communicate the right message internally as there may be individuals or groups who feel threatened by the change.
Don't forget the clients: Make sure they understand what's happening and why + what this means for them. Another great opportunity to build trust.
Be a connector of people: Get to know your incoming lawyers, find out their strengths and what they are good at. Provide a place for them to communicate their expertise, their passions and their personalisties. In short provide voice - again internally and externally.
The session finished with a quick-fire 'key takeaways':
- Anne Schuster - "Communicate. Communicate. Communicate." Manage expectations and understand how decisions are made.
- Lee Watts - "Know the story." Create a narrative externally ad internally and promote why it's a good thing for everyone involved.
- Jennifer Castleberry - "Build a road map." Set out key timelines explaining when systems will integrate.
- Michael Ellenhorn - Get a transparent picture of the firm you are coming together with. In short, "Know who you are marrying!"