In this episode, Guy Alvarez discusses business development lessons for law firm leaders with Uri Gutfreund. Uri is the founder of The Managing Partner RoundTable, the largest peer-to-peer learning group for managing partners of mid-size firms. The program enables Managing Partners to help each other in their mastermind groups to solve their biggest problems. Uri also chairs the successful Managing Partner Summit, an educational program for over 100 law firms. Connect with Uri on LinkedIn here.
The key to any successful law firm lies in how you market your services and expertise. Law firm marketing is often lost in the details. Books and articles are often popular when they have the latest strategies or techniques that lawyers think can improve marketing and business development. People are always looking for shortcuts but often the most important issues go unaddressed. Guy and Uri discuss some infrastructure and critical management decisions that law firms should make to achieve a quantum leap in their results.
Podcast Show Notes
How did you come up with the idea for The Managing Partner RoundTable?
I began working with law firms in the 1990’s, as the head of a large national insurance brokerage firm, specifically working with lawyers. I’ve seen how law firms have changed how they do business and gain new clients. In 2008, it became unacceptable for law firms to be inefficient in their marketing and business development. In order to become efficient, managing partners had to meet other managing partners and eventually I was running monthly meetings with over 80 partners sharing ideas about marketing and business development.
How many lawyers are involved in these roundtables?
In total, almost 90 partners and we expect to expand to 100 by the end of the year. They all gather together to discuss what works best for their firm. There are also groups segmented based upon the size of the firm.
How important is business development to a law firm?
It is incredibly important, but it was not always like that. It used to be that lawyers brought in business; they were the rainmakers. Every small to mid-size firm was worried about the effects of losing a major client or major rainmaker.
What opportunities are there for law firms that want to change their marketing and business development strategies?
The current trend is for firms of all sizes, hiring full-time marketing teams or part-time consultants. We discovered through RoundTable data, that about half of the firms are spending significant money on marketing and business development personnel. Of those firms, half of them have full time marketing and business development personnel, while the other half has part-time.
What are the biggest mistakes that firms make when hiring marketing staff and executing their marketing initiatives?
Surprisingly, they mess up the three basics: the lack of a plan, a top-secret plan or a competing plan. A firm can lack a plan even if they have hired a marketing person, this can happen when the marketing person is not a good fit for the firm or lacks the experience to execute a marketing plan. To have a top-secret plan is when a firm develops a plan but does not implement it. To have competing plans is when one partner is in charge of one strategy and another partner is in charge of differing strategy.
Do you see a concentrated effort or investment in trying to teach lawyers how to become better rainmakers?
Some partners believe that hiring someone to market the company and paying them a percentage of the revenue will be successful. But to truly be successful in becoming a better rainmaker, the firm must tell their rising employees that if they want to be a partner, they must market and work on business development.
What are the most important elements that a firm can do to market and develop their business?
It is important to have plans to market the firm, but it is more important to have someone accountable that will execute the plans. These plans must go through the managing partner to ensure that they are a good fit for the firm.
What is the biggest challenge managing partners face when trying to implement a marketing and business development culture at the firm?
The biggest challenge they face is the firm’s employees asking why to fix the marketing of the firm in the future if it is not broken today. The employees might not see this as necessary until something major happens, like a decline in business or loss of a major client. They also might believe that they are too busy to market the firm in a new way.
What is a good way for marketing directors to communicate the importance of marketing to their managing partner?
I suggest that the marketing director speak with the managing partner directly about the firm’s marketing business development plan. Marketing directors should know specifically the kind of clients that the firm is looking for, what the clients look like and what they expect from the firm. Once marketing directors know the marketing business development plan, they can lead the managing partner to the vision of the firm.
Creating and executing marketing and business plans should never be done in a silo. The firms who have been the most successful in their practices, business development, and marketing efforts are the ones who have figured out how to blend all three.
If you’re looking to grow into a more prosperous and profitable firm, it’s vital that you not only keep these law firm business development lessons in mind, but that your firm actually implements them. Contact us today to schedule a chat with our experts and let’s develop a strategic marketing plan to grow your practice.