Buchanan Ingersoll's Superb Annual Report

Buchanan_annual_report_1It's the time of year when law firms issue their "annual reports," or highlights of the previous year.  Once again the Pittsburgh law firm Buchanan Ingersoll has published a superb annual report.  Buchanan Ingersoll has offices in eight states and the District of Columbia, with nearly 400 lawyers. (Click on the picture to see it full size).

The annual report is brilliant for its focus on 7 of its 15 target industries, all reflected in the 25-page, glossy, heavy paper report.  The firm distributed 10,000 copies.  Most other law firms market their practice groups, which is a mistake.  Smart law firms approach clients and prospects as industry experts, because executives think of themselves as being part of an industry, not a customer of a practice group.

The report is exceptional because it's built around the way clients think:

  • It's short and easy to read.
  • 50% of the space is devoted to pictures.
  • It tells success stories, which clients love.  Here's a vignette from their Financial Services section: "We successfully resolved a $64 million lease-rejection claim and a $6 million preference complaint in the Global Crossing Chapter 11 case for Goldman Sachs Mortgage Capital."  They told the story in 5 lines.
  • It's organized to discuss their legal work across areas of practice in several industries.  Each section has about 10 success stories and a sidebar that discusses their industry activity.
  • It names clients, so that readers can see the representative corporations the firm works with.
  • It ends with awards and honors, appointments, donations and rankings where the firm scored high.

A few minor flaws: the report contains no phone number; it begins with a four-page message from the firm chairman, and then two pages of pro bono stuff that could have been put at the end.

In all, I send earnest kudos to Lori K. Lecker, Director of Communications and Public Relations for her superb work. It took five months to plan, design and produce the report.  "We had such a good year in 2005, the report wrote itself," she said.

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