Effective Business Development Initiatives for a Law Firm

Adrian Dayton, bloggerBlogger Adrian Dayton, author of the “Marketing Strategy and The Law” blog, interviewed me about business development strategy for law firms.

Among the topics we covered are:

  • Three key elements of a marketing plan.
  • Practice group profitability.
  • Proving a return-on-investment for marketing initiatives.
  • Focusing on clients by industry, not by practice group.
  • LinkedIn, which has 850,000 lawyer profiles.
  • Blogging, which includes some 4,000 attorney blogs.
  • How a narrow focus makes a blog succeed.
  • Caveats about lawyers going online.
  • The role of Twitter.
  • A prediction for the future.

You can read it on the LawMarketing Portal at www.lawmarketing.com.


Bankruptcy Practice Leads Law Firms Out of Recession

law practice demand growthThe recession in the legal profession appears to have bottomed out, according to a new Hildebrandt Peer Monitor Report for the second quarter of 2009.

The bright spot is that demand growth, defined as growth in billable hours, for bankruptcy is up 22% compared to a year ago. Business bankruptcy filings increased from 14,319 nationwide in Q1 2009 to 16,014 in Q2, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

However, hours billed to litigation, patents, IP litigation, labor & employment, M&A, tax, corporate and real estate are all down.

"However, litigation appeared to be strengthening, especially for more premium matters. If this trend continues into the second half of the year, it will help mitigate – though not completely make up for – the shortfall in other practice areas,” the report states.  “Demand growth, should show signs of recovery in the second half of the year if the general economy continues to improve. However, any such improvement, if it occurs, will be modest at best.”

For more on this story, visit the LawMarketing Portal at www.lawmarketing.com

Helping Lawyers Build Relationships and Sell

Peter Kane, business development training

What is it about the nature of some professionals that stops them being great in business development? UK marketer Peter Kane examines 10 of the big issues – and at the same time suggests ways to help. The areas are also song titles on his  iPod.

"I’m willing to give you an insight into my muddled musical taste in the hope it will provide an easy way for you to remember each issue. Let’s kick-off with a classic..."

Strangers In The Night – Frank Sinatra

One myth around business development is that you need to constantly reach out to people you have never spoken to before – something which quite understandably scares the pants off the average cautious lawyer. But, the reverse is true. People should start by selling through their best contacts and clients.

Exhaust those first. Then and only then, begin the arduous and expensive journey to engaging cold prospects.

Not only is it easier and more natural to invest in relationships with people whom you already know – it is also a lot quicker. Developing deep personal trust and credibility takes years. If someone has no awareness of you or your firm at the moment, chances of winning work from them are slim.

The Only One I Know – The Charlatans

Many lawyers have deep expertise in a particular area which is a big plus when delivering technical work. However, when valuable conversations require breadth to focus on a clients’ business – rather than simply a particular specialism, the lawyer can feel exposed, so retreats into their comfort zone leaving the client frustrated.

As Catriona Tulley, who has worked in business development with 3i and KPMG, notes, “Sometimes it’s better to know a little about a lot rather than a lot about a little. Combine this with a fear of being exposed, and some people cling to the comfort blanket of what they know.”

To see the other eight issues and the rest of the story, visit the LawMarketing Portal at www.lawmarketing.com.

The Top 46 Law Firms that Represent Corporate America

Incisive Media researched the Fortune 100 to find out which law firms they used in 2008 in each of the following practice areas:

  • Corporate transactions
  • Torts and negligence
  • Commercial law and contracts litigation
  • Employment and labor litigation
  • Intellectual property.

The 46 law firms that were mentioned most often are listed below. The list organized by the largest companies can be found here. You can buy the entire list of who-counsels-whom from Incisive Media for $900.

Firm Number of Mentions
Morgan, Lewis 24
Littler Mendelson 23
Ogletree Deakins 20
Jones Day 17
K&L Gates 17
Kirkland & Ellis 17
McGuireWoods 17
Seyfarth Shaw 17
King & Spalding 16
Foley & Lardner 15
Hunton & Williams 15

Firm Number of Mentions
Watkins & Eager 7
Baker, Donelson 5
King & Spalding 5
Barfield & Associates 4
Bryan Cave 4
Campbell Campbell 4
Forman Perry 4
Frost Brown 4
Miles & Stockbridge 4
Page, Mannino 4
Tucker Ellis 4

Firm Number of Mentions
Cleary Gottlieb 11
Wachtell 11
Hogan & Hartson 8
Sullivan & Cromwell 8
Blake, Cassels 7
Davis Polk 7
Allens Arthur 6
Baker & McKenzie 6
Jones Day 6
Pinhiero Neto 6
Skadden 6
Weil, Gotshal 6
Freshfields Bruckhaus 5
Simpson Thacher 5

Firm Number of Mentions
Baker Botts 9
Fish & Richardson 9
Foley & Lardner 9
K&L Gates 9
Cantor Colburn 8
Alston & Bird 7
Howrey 7
King & Spalding 7
Kirkland & Ellis 7

Firm Number of Mentions
Reed Smith 6
Morgan, Lewis 5
Kirkland & Ellis 4
Stein & Rotman 4




Number of Mentions

Littler Mendelson


Ogletree Deakins


Seyfarth Shaw


Morgan, Lewis




Jackson Lewis


Akin Gump


Hunton & Williams


Potter Minton


Foley & Lardner


Fulbright & Jaworski


Sidley Austin


(Corporate Counsel, August 2009)

Interview: Collaboration is the Key to Finding New Business

Ari Kaplan, law firm marketing, business developmentWant to find out the most efficient hunting organization in the world? Or how to find a counterpart to go to market with?  Check out Ari Kaplan's interview with me about business development, Twitter and the bright side of the down economy. 

Listen to the 4-minute excerpt of our conversation here.

We cover:

  • "Double-teaming" an association for new business.
  • What should you say at a new business meeting?
  • What is the ultimate collaborative network?
  • How to find new business in a down market and what to look for.
  • How to use technology to get new files and clients.

Paid Search Results Bring Bigger Spenders than Organic Search Results

Now here's something I didn't expect: according to a new study by Engine Ready, an Internet marketing company, suggests that visitors who get to retail sites through sponsored links are more likely to buy than those who click on organic results. They also spend more; the average order of a paid link was $11 higher, at $117.06.

Up to now, the prevailing view is that being found in an organic search yielded better results for web site owners than pay per click advertising.  The new research suggests that marketers should indeed buy ads that show up alongside results on search engines like Google, as opposed to spending money on search engine optimization to produce higher organize search results.

The study states, "Upon completion of data compilation, we found that the aggregated sales dollar volume resulted in a distribution among the four traffic source categories as follows:

  • Organic listings – 11%
  • Paid listings – 27%
  • Direct Access/Bookmarks – 39%
  • Other referrers – 23%

Sales volume, pay per click, organic serp

Jamie Smith, the chief of Engine Ready, told the New York Times that human shoppers might be turned off by the tricks that make a site show up higher in Google rankings. In particular, Google’s Web trawling software is lured by pages with lots of material. “When we’re optimizing for search engines, content is king,” Smith said. “But less is more when engaging a visitor.”

For the full story visit the LawMarketing Portal at www.lawmarketing.com.


A Marketer's Guide to Alternative Billing Methods

Susan Van Dyke, alternative fees, billing methodAccording to Susan Van Dyke, American lawyers and firms are now undeniably called upon to introduce more creative approaches to billing by in-house legal departments. A few firms have jumped aboard and, further yet, some will be paid bonuses on positive outcomes, rewarding the creative and efficient.

"After many years of mumbling by lawyers and clients alike, one must wonder: will we look beyond the billable hour in light of the current economic bellyaching and slashed budgets of virtually every U.S. corporate legal department and many Canadian clients?" Van Dyke asks.

Ironically, the biggest push for alternatives must come from clients who  want increased value for fees,  although clients want their lawyers to initiate this conversation. But law firms require incentive to offer creative solutions that place them at greater risk.

Visit the LawMarketing Portal to read her description of billing models such as blended rates, capped fees, contingency fees, fixed fees, retainers and success fees.

Supercharge Your Referrals with Technology

Steve Matthews, online social networkingAccording to Steve Matthews and Reid F. Trautz, social networking sites are free services to connect to others through your existing relationships in order to obtain business referrals and build new alliances for future business.

"Know that every time you participate in your network you make small deposits into relationships in order to maintain them and have them grow," they said.

Reid Trautz"Becoming involved in social networks helps us manage our existing relationships and build new ones. Spending time through social networks is an investment in future business. Increasing communication is an important aspect of social networking -- more frequent, more varied to deepen your relationships. However, like so many marketing activities, many lawyers are loath to invest that time, preferring to “just be a lawyer.” Social networking is more fun and less drudgery, especially if you are not comfortable in face-to-face interactions."

  • Illustration: An often untapped source of quality referrals is an individual's past, and sometimes distant past: childhood friends, elementary and secondary school classmates. While most people will think to reconnect with University peers from their past, one of frequently told benefits of social networking is 'the excuse' to re-connect with people we've known in the early part of our lives. Interestingly, these bonds can be exceptionally strong; and can be especially beneficial when an individual comes from affluent background.
  • Illustration: If you represent businesses, use your social network connections to add more to your client roster. As part of your overall marketing efforts, identify businesses that you would like to represent and find the names of their top decision-makers. Then search for those names across social network websites (all of them provide this simple service), then find people in your own social network to help you get an introduction to the decision-makers.

Visit the LawMarketing Portal to read the 7 benefits of online social networking, and their take on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Legal OnRamp and Plaxo.

More Positive Economic Indicators

Legal Services Growth, law firm marketingMore economic indicators for the legal profession show that the recession is ending and that a recovery is beginning.

Law firm marketing professionals point to several positive indicators:

· Fed Views Recession as Near an End. On August 12, 2009, the Federal Reserve said that the recession is ending and that it would take a step back toward normal policy.

· Unemployment rate does NOT increase.  Despite widespread predictions that the unemployment rate would crest over 10%, it held steady at 9.4% as of August 7, according to the federal government.

· U.S. jobless claims fall sharply. The number of U.S. workers submitting new claims for jobless benefits fell sharply in early August, fanning hopes the fragile labor market was on the mend and that the broader economy was stabilizing. Initial claims for state unemployment insurance fell 38,000 to a seasonally adjusted 550,000 in the week ended August 1, the Labor Department said on Thursday, beating market expectations for a drop to 580,000.

· Housing prices increase. Houses have finally become cheap enough to lure buyers, according to a new report released on July 28. That, in turn, is stabilizing prices, generating hope that the real estate market is beginning to recover. For the first time since early 2007, a composite index of 20 major cities was virtually flat, instead of down. “We’ve found the bottom,” Mark Fleming, chief economist for First American CoreLogic, told the New York Times.

· Stock Markets are Up. The Dow Jones Industrial has closed above 9,000 by the end of July, its highest point for 2009. The broader Standard & Poor's index is up 11% for the year.

· Pent up consumer demand. The cash-for-clunkers program brought 120,000 new-car buyers into car dealerships from July 1 to early August. According to the New York Times, this reveals pent-up consumer demand, which is a sign of economic recovery.

· 3% growth in 2010. An industry forecast by First Research Inc. (a service of Hoover's Inc. online database) shows that growth in the legal sector stabilizes in 2009 and turns into 3% growth in 2010.  For the full story see the LawMarketing Portal at www.lawmarketing.com.

August 2009 Issue of Originate! is Online

Prepare for better business development with the talking points from this month's featured articles in Originate!, the business development newsletter.

Lead Article: Making His Mark – 8 Things an IP Lawyer Wished He Had Known Sooner about Making Business Development Work

Attorney Nicholas Weston knew he had to do something different at his boutique IP firm. If he wanted to improve the kinds of work he was doing plus stop wasting time and money, he had to overhaul his approach to business development. Here he shares eight marketing errors he used to make and how, mainly by trial and error, he changed his ways. By his good example, you might avoid these errors yourself.

Turning Seminars Into Billable Work: Getting the Right People To Attend

Getting the right people to your seminar demands attention to marketing and selling. Otherwise, warns Michael Cummings, you’ll fail to reap the reward for all your efforts. Here are the steps you can take to promote the value of your program and to seal the deal so the people whom you want walk in the door.

The Best Beginning: What to Do When the Matter Ends

Eighth Stage of the 12 Step Pipeline: In this stage of managing your sales pipeline, you’ve just finished the first matter with a client. How can you set the stage for future work? Andy Havens reveals how a simple question can help you build that future and your service quality, and advises what not to do as well.

Side-by-Side: Comparing a Business Development Winner and Loser
How differently can two partners at the same law firm respond to a tough economy?  As night and day, observes Larry Bodine, Esq. Here he itemizes the pair's winning and losing approaches to business development and career success. Where do you fit and what can you do about it?

Who Are You?: Winning New Business By Being Visible
No law firm wants to be viewed in their business community as having run-of-the-mill attorneys. The practice of law is too competitive for that. Instead, observes Thom Singer, you and your firm must actively commit to making yourself visible experts in your field, and seven good ways to get the word out.

Untouchables: Removing The Third Rails of Business Development at Your Law Firm
At so many law firms, there seem to be three main areas that are constantly discussed, hotly debated…but too hot to touch, observes Darryl Cross. These third rails (compensation, allocating marketing dollars and short-term focus) are often cowardly left to another day or a time of crisis. In the mean time, your business development potential is derailed. Here's how to get on track.

A Marketer's Guide to Alternative Billing Methods

Susan Van Dyke, alternative billingClients are inquiring about alternative fees, which leave most law firms flummoxed.  Hourly billing is all that many law firms are familiar with. Now Susan Van Dyke, the president of the Vancouver Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, demystifies several alternative billing models:

  • Blended rates
  • Capped fees
  • Contingency fees
  • Fixed fees
  • Retainers
  • Success fee

"American lawyers and firms are now undeniably called upon to introduce more creative approaches to billing by in-house legal departments," she writes on the LawMarketing Portal. "A few firms have jumped aboard and, further yet, some will be paid bonuses on positive outcomes, rewarding the creative and efficient."

Alternative fees are the bugaboo of law firm economics. Research by ACC/Serengeti and by Incisive Legal Intelligence show that the billable hour is firmly entrenched – not just by law firms, but by corporate clients as well. The research shows that clients may rattle their sabers about alternative fees, but they ultimately are satisfied with a discount on hourly fees.

"After many years of mumbling by lawyers and clients alike, one must wonder: will we look beyond the billable hour in light of the current economic bellyaching and slashed budgets of virtually every U.S. corporate legal department and many Canadian clients?"

Get the whole story on the LawMarketing Portal at www.lawmarketing.com 



Discount to Webinar: Compensation for Client Development

LawMarketing Blog readers will save $75 with Discount Code LMLS on CCM's audio conference....

Compensation for Client Development:

How to Recognize and Track New Business Origination

Tuesday, August 11, 2009  |  2:00 PM to 3:15 PM Eastern

Register Now or Order the CD!

Description: Client development is one of the most crucial factors for setting lawyer compensation. And proper tracking and measurement of success is one of the toughest compensation problems facing law firms today.

Industry experts have suggested that compensating for only origination encourages individual rather than firm focused behavior.  How then can your firm make sure that client development compensation recognizes efforts made by all lawyers involved in the work?

Find out how to mold a client development compensation plan that’s fair and effective.  In this must-attend CCM teleconference, you’ll learn best practices and new methods for tracking and rewarding client development.

By the end of this critical session, you’ll also know:

  • The importance of clearly defining origination at your firm
  • Pros and cons of the most commonly used systems
  • How measuring origination motivates lawyer behavior
  • Alternative approaches to measuring and compensating for client development
  • How to measure strengths and weaknesses of your own system
  • Best practices for incentivizing across teams and industries
  • How and when to set consequences for not selling
  • Potential ‘gotchas’ when measuring the generation of client relationship

Plus, there's no risk. If you're not completely happy with this program, for any reason, simply contact us for a full refund.  No questions asked.

Register Now or Order the CD!

Featured Faculty:  (Learn more)

- James D. Cotterman, Principal, Altman Weil, Inc.

- Evan Polin, Vice President, Sandler Training, The Training Resource Group

Pricing: Save $75 with Discount Code LMLS!

ListServ Price
Regular Price
Event + CD
Event Only
CD Only

Unable to Attend? Order the CD!  Your CD recording includes the complete audio conference presentation, audience Q&A and presentation materials. 

Remember, if you're not completely happy with this program, for any reason, simply contact us for a full refund.  No questions asked.

Register Now or Order the CD!

Call 877-900-C4CM (2426) to register by phone or

to speak with a CCM customer service representative.

Center For Competitive Management

Online:  Click here

Phone: 877-900-C4CM

Email: service@c4cm.com


CCM provides audio conference attendees with CLE credit processing services.

(Learn more)


Upcoming CCM Events

Sales Compensation Plans that Rock the Recession and Position for Success
August 18, 2009

Pro Bono: A Win-Win

in a Down Economy
September 23, 2009


(Frequently Asked Questions)


Martindale Connected Passes 12,000 members

Jonathan Lin, Lexis NexisBack on March 31, Martindale Connected launched with 3,000 members and a headwind of skepticism.  Despite this, the online social network has crested over 12,000 members in just 4 months.

I joined myself, made a few connections and am experimenting by starting some discussions.

According to Jonathan Lin, Director of Product Management, Connected has added new improvements:

  • An enhanced the Member Directory with the ability to filter members by name, organization, and location -- all from a single search box.
  • 1 million lawyers in the Martindale-Hubbell database
  • 30,000 legal articles
  • 5,700 legal job postings
  • 100,000 legal experts and service providers
  • Blog posts and forum discussions

To read two success stories, see the Law.com article "Martindale-Hubbell: 'The Way I Connected'"  Meredith B. Stone, Vice President and General Counsel for the Americas for NACCO Materials Handling Group Inc. describes her experience first, followed by Evan Brown, a lawyer who specializes in Internet law at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in Chicago.


Drinker Biddle Prospers after Adopting the ACC Value Challenge

Kristin Sudholz, ACC Challenge, Drinker, Business DevelopmentWe are at the tipping point, and one of the law firms leading the way into the future is Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, a national law firm with nearly 700 lawyers in 12 offices representing midsized enterprises to Fortune 50 companies.

Drinker Biddle has fully embraced the ACC Value Challenge. It studied what clients said that they wanted, gives it to them, and clients and prospects have responded positively. “In some cases, the fruits of our labor are bearing fruit in six months instead of the typical three years,” said Director of Business Development Kristin Sudholz, based in the Chicago office. In terms of new business, “we are getting more 'at bats' as a result of clients and prospects wanting to give us a chance to put our client goals into action,” she said.


It began when Executive Partner Andrew Kassner attended a pilot meeting with ACC leaders about the Value Challenge, and was convinced. Ever since then Sudholz has been working around the clock with the firm’s Value Task Force to implement a variety of efforts in direct response to the Value Challenge:

1. While the firm has been utilizing alternative billing structures for years, it has been more aggressive in the variety of alternatives it is implementing.

2. It abandoned the traditional first-year associate program, opting for reduced salaries, no billable requirements, no (or significantly discounted) charges to the client.  Instead the firm is putting them through a six-month training and apprenticeship program.

3. Developing technology that clients actually want, such as free centralized extranets for all the law firms working on a matter.

4. Adopting the goal of pursuing the 17 activities identified by BTI Consulting that drive law firm success. (This effort resulted in a jump from being named in only 5 categories two years ago to 13 categories last year.)

5. Bringing in-house counsel into the law firm to talk about the in-house/outside counsel relationship and how they define value, and listening to them.

6. Creating a Law Firm Advisory Committee composed of several law firms that support the Value Challenge philosophy.

To read the full story, visit the LawMarketing Portal at www.lawmarketing.com.


Enlarging Revenue Pipelines into Your Firm

Adrian DaytonWhat is the methodology for getting new clients and generating new revenue? Find out in a podcast recorded by Adrian Dayton where I explain how it's done.  The title of the podcast is "No Twitter for Lawyers? Hear marketing pro Larry Bodine’s Take," but we don't talk about Twitter until the last 5 minutes.

Before that, you'll hear:

  • How to evaluate your firm's marketing program - what to do with key financial information and client data.
  • The importance of profitability of practice groups and finding where your firm is making money.
  • Step one in a marketing initiative: how to tell whether you should do it or not.
  • How a Michigan firm spent $160,000 on a marketing initiative and got $6 million in return.
  • How to target an industry and find new business.
  • Marketing your law firm with social media -- and which network to start with.
  • Generating revenue with a unique blog, and picking a money-making topic.
  • Twitter: something to consider after LinkedIn and blogging.
  • What the legal profession will look like in 10 years.

Visit http://adriandayton.com/2009/08/no-twitter-for-lawyers-hear-marketing-pro-larry-bodines-take/ for the whole story.


Guerrilla Marketing with Gecko Magnets

In a delightful guerrilla marketing campaign, phone company Telus placed hundreds of gecko-shaped magnets over 18 high-traffic transit shelter ads in downtown Vancouver. The magnetic side of the geckos read "Bundle and save on the sure-footed network." All the magnets were gone the next day, as expected. Targeting young families, the amphibian campaign aims to encourage consumers to purchase their Internet and phone plans with the company.

In case you’re not from Canada, Telus picks a new animal every advertising season, and makes cute ads on a white background anchored with the tag line: The Future Is Friendly. The premise: if you bundle my services with Telus, you will be able to relax.

TAXI Vancouver created the campaign and Media Experts handled the media buy. Guerilla Marketing with Gekkos



"Professional Services Marketing" - With Bonus Materials

The new book Professional Services Marketing, written by Mike Schultz and John Doerr, co-founders of Wellesley Hills Group and publishers of RainToday.com, offers field-tested expertise, benchmark research, industry case studies, and personal anecdotes from top service marketing professionals.

Based on insight from firms that succeed and the science of how clients buy, it’s the perfect book for consultants, attorneys, accountants, engineers, and other professional service providers. The book covers five key areas that are critical for firms that want to grow their revenues and themselves:

  1. Creating a marketing and growth strategy
  2. Establishing a brand and reputation
  3. Implementing a marketing communications program
  4. Lead generation strategies
  5. Developing business by winning new clients.

Book Website: www.professionalservicesmarketingbook.com

If you buy the book on either August 3rd or 4th, you’ll get bonus materials from Wellesley Hills Group, RainToday.com and industry experts including:

·         Larry Bodine, Thinking Like a Rainmaker—Crafting Your Personal Marketing Plan

·         RainToday webinar, How to Turn Your Firm into a Marketing and Business Development Powerhouse, with Mike Schultz

·         Ardath Albee, Tune Up Your Client Focus Ebook

·         Brian Carroll, Chapter 8: The Phone from Lead Generation for the Complex Sales

·         Jill Konrath, Strong Value Propositions Ebook

·         Michael W. McLaughlin, Consult This! 67 Tips for Consulting Success

·         Michael Stelzner, Writer Industry Report White Paper

·         Vickie Sullivan, Speaking of 2009: Top Ten Changes that Shape the New High-Fee Speech Circuit

·         Jeanne Urich, Killer Services Marketing White Paper

After purchasing, visit www.professionalservicesmarketingbook.com/bonus-materials and enter your confirmation number to download these valuable resources.

Click here to buy the book now.