83% of Law Firms Fight Recession with Business Development Training

The following is excerpted from the July 2009 report "Delivering Value-Added legal Services in Challenging Times," published by Robert Half Legal, a specialized staffing service reachable at 800.870.8367 and www.roberthalflegal.com

Altman Weil's survey of general counsel found that 75 percent of legal departments anticipate budget reductions in 2009. "In this economy, the number-one priority is to keep the clients you've got," says Larry Bodine, a business development advisor based in Glen Ellyn, Ill., with Apollo Business Development and editor of Larry Bodine LawMarketing Blog, a professional law marketing blog. "Customer service is the way to do it.”

"You can't take your clients for granted," observes Harley L. Winger, partner at the Calgary-based firm of Burstall Winger LLP. "With consolidation, there will be fewer clients, and the ones there are will be doing less fee-­generating work, unless they're going into receivership. Law firms don't have as much work as they once did, so as a firm, you know the competition is talking to your clients.”

business development training

Business development is urgent priority

The slowdown in business caused by the challenging economy has prompted many law firms to seek new clients. Some firms see their marketing departments as a cost center, however, and given diminished prospects for revenues, have decided to cut back on the budget allotment for new business development. For instance, a recent survey conducted by the Legal Marketing Association revealed that in 2008, firms spent less on marketing in the third quarter than they did during the same period in 2007.

But other firms view business development as an urgent priority. "This is the time to redouble efforts at business development," says Terrence Russell of Ruden McClosky. "Law firms will have to do their best to get out there and gather clients that are holding their own, are well-managed and are likely to weather this storm.”

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