This browser is not actively supported anymore. For the best passle experience, we strongly recommend you upgrade your browser.
hero image of people sitting with documents near table


| 2 minutes read

Legal Business Development Strategies Panel - Preparing for 2023

Yesterday, David Ackert ran an insightful panel focused on Business Development Strategies for law firms into 2023. David was joined by 3 powerhouses in the Legal Marketing/BD world: Barbara Malin: CBDMO of Jackson Walker, Michelle Murray: BD Director of Shearman & Sterling, and Jenna Schiappacasse: Director of Client Development and Strategic Growth at Jenner & Block.

The panel reflected on the past year. 2022 has been an incredible year for growth within firms and all three panellists were more optimistic for next year than expected. 

As leaders of their BD teams, Jenna, Barbara, and Michelle shared the following in priorities in common as they look forward to 2023:

  1. Know your clients inside and out. Be where they are. Move where they want you to move and properly understand their challenges and their opportunities.
  2. Ensure their own BD and Marketing teams 'shine'. For all three leaders enabling their teams to succeed and celebrating that success was their number one priority. 
  3. Ensure resources are put into competitive intelligence so that data and hard numbers back up their Business Development strategy. 

As you can imagine the panel covered the 3 themes above in length. Here are some key highlights of what was covered:

New Hybrid Working Landscape - Know your Client 

It’s important to know how and where your clients work. Sounds obvious but a lot has changed. Offering to take a client to lunch in the city doesn't work anymore if your client is working from home. Barbara said, “Make sure you know where they work, how they work and be flexible!”

Achieving Business Development Success through Lateral Hires

If lateral hires are central to your firm’s growth your BD team needs to get those new lawyers in front of clients as soon as possible. Michelle said, “Bringing a team across from another firm is a statement to the market that you are putting your money where your mouth is. Clients always ask, is your bench deep enough?"  

It better be! Advice from the panel was to have a robust and proven process in place that makes sure the new hires have an easy landing in your firm, know who they need to know, get embedded in client teams quickly and have all the help they need navigating internal processes, systems and politics.

Competitive Intelligence

Data is everything! Jenna said, “The days of a gut feeling making a decision should be gone.” Know where the money is and who are your most profitable/best-fit clients for your firm. The data provided can then drive your strategy.  If you do not have that information, you can end up in the dark. Importantly know the work you should take on and absolutely know the work you should not take on. All work is not equal and beware of the hidden costs. This will mean you have to say no to Partners now and then! 

Talent War in Business Development

Barbara said, “The key is to make your team of Business development specialists know that they are in a place where they are making a contribution. That will give them a vision towards what their future at the firm might be.” 

All three panellists have obviously done very well at both retaining and attracting great talent to their teams.  Jenna has impressively doubled her team in two years despite joining in the depth of the pandemic.  At Shearman & Sterling, Michelle told us how BD team members are truly seen as partners to their lawyers. They are respected and the lawyers know that the BD specialists know the clients inside and out. There is trust.

Overall, it was a fantastic panel to attend with plenty of great insights to absorb and use for next year. I'm looking forward to the next one!

“In my eyes, it's really important that we give our people the opportunity to shine and give them the opportunity to see where they can go so that the path at a different firm doesn't look more attractive than the path that's available to them at our own firm.” -Barbara Malin, CBDMO of Jackson Walker


e2e, marketing, professional services, business development, business strategy