Just over a week ago, the Passle team was fortunate enough to attend the Thomson Reuters Marketing Partners Forum in Florida. Not only was it one of the first in person events in nearly two years, but it was a brilliant chance to hear from and talk to some of the most influential individuals in notable law firms around the world.
The first talk that was attended was a panel of brilliant Marketing Leaders including Catherine Zinn, Chief Client Officer at Baker Botts, Betsy Donovan, Head of US Marketing & Business Development, Withers Bergman and Beth Cuzzone, Global Practice Group Leader, at Intapp. The session was moderated by Tom Snavely, Principal Consultant, Advisory Services, Market Insights & Thought Leadership, at Thomson Reuters who kicked things off by sharing the latest legal market insights around Buyer Sentiment and Spend Optimism (highlighted below):
In summary, the number of General Counsel reporting they will be increasing spending has increased. And the number of those reporting they will be decreasing spending has decreased. This is a massive opportunity for law firms! Catherine Zinn added at this point, "the legal market really is exploding", which certainly set the tone for the following hour.
With clients spending more, how do you capture a higher percentage of client wallet share?
What really came across from our panel of experts (and the research from Sharplegal) was how important it is to truly understand your clients business and/or the sector they are in.
As Betsy shared, "new sectors and technology such as Blockchain and NFT's are driving an 'unprecedented' amount of attention and focus in the industry with lawyers having to retrain and focus in on what matters to their clients".
Interestingly, this also seems to be big area where law firms can improve their client satisfaction. 'Understanding my business and/or sector' topped the chart of responses when looking at the Skills gaps clients observe in their lawyers.
The panel were in agreement that being sector focused drives satisfaction from clients, but also in turn significantly increases recommendation, through being recognised as a sector specialist.
How can firms become sector specialist?
It was clear that there are a few tactics being deployed to achieve this market recognition. Both the panelists and the attendees shared their thoughts in the form of a 'breakout session':
- Branding and Selling Individuals - through increasing the profiles of key Partners through the likes of industry specific thought leadership or talks will in turn help the recognition of the practice and firm they are within.
- Give Lawyers Freedom to Develop their Specialism - Facilitate, encourage and support ambitious lawyers to become experts on the things they are passionate about. E.g e-sports, Crypto
- Right Structure / Model - creating focussed plans around both individuals and practices gives accountability to those involved. These can be tinkered with as they are developed.
- Data - the word of the moment and the goldmine that law firms are sat on. Whilst not all firms will have data analysts, it is super important to work through the relevant data to reveal which areas the business is, for instance, billing the most. This helps to reveal what specialisms clients may already consider you for.
- Education - if there are particular industries or sectors the firm wishes to be known for, it is important that there is training and education around these topics to ensure you can show that you really know what you are talking about.
- Focused Recruitment - Target specific individuals based on the expertise they will bring to the firm.
As with any new approach, there is never a right answer. Betsy shared her mantra that you need to make marketing and business development as accessible as possible and with that have a "human to human focus". Ultimately, as Beth said, "whether it's sector, industry or a market approach you want - make a decision and stick to it", which was further supported by Catherine who reiterated that, "you can't be all things to all people".
It is fair to say that we certainly came away having learnt a huge amount and are grateful to everyone involved who shared such invaluable knowledge.