GCs Single Out Law Firm Power Players in 18 Industries

Some firms deliver 3.1 practices to their clients on a regular basis while ringing up $32,000 more in profits per attorney than competitors. They also are getting vastly larger shares of client spending. These firms are in Clientopia®—the strongest relationship you can ever have.

Testing Your Relationships for Clientopia

You look to 2 undeniable milestones when measuring Clientopia. First, attaining status as the lead primary provider—a position reserved for the single firm capturing the bulk of a client’s work. You are also the most important firm to your client on a continuing basis.

Second, the honor of being first recommended to a peer. Not just a plain, old recommendation—as in “will you recommend me?”—but the highly prized, elusive unprompted recommendation clients share with each other in confidence. The firm who gets the unprompted peer-to-peer recommendation is the one with the emotionally invested client. Emotionally invested clients give you more pricing flexibility, work without competitive bid, share their deepest concerns, give you feedback, and actively work to make you successful. (The only way to win this envied investment is to deliver superior client service.)

The rare combination of being lead primary provider and earning unprompted peer recommendations places you in Clientopia—the strongest type of client relationship. Firms in Clientopia enjoy preferred access to the best work, more intellectual challenge, higher rates, and a generally more fulfilling experience.

Law Firms with More of the Best Relationships

We conducted in-depth interviews with more than 950 top legal decision makers—all of whom answered the question about their primary firms and exactly who they recommend to their peers—with no suggestions of names or firms. Our goal: to identify the law firms with the strongest relationships.

Only 143 law firms are in Clientopia relationships spread across 18 industries. We found 24 law firms capture more Clientopia relationships, along with delivering a greater number of practices, reaping higher profits per attorney and a larger share of spending than all other firms—these are the BTI Clientopia 24. Please join us in congratulating these firms on earning the largest number of Clientopia relationships of all law firms serving large clients:

  1. Jones Day
  2. Skadden
  3. Dentons
  4. Latham & Watkins
  5. McGuireWoods
  6. Cooley
  7. DLA Piper
  8. Sidley
  9. Kirkland & Ellis
  10. Polsinelli
  11. Hogan Lovells
  12. WilmerHale
  13. Orrick
  14. Reed Smith
  15. Ogletree Deakins
  16. Wachtell Lipton
  17. BakerHostetler
  18. Gibson Dunn
  19. Norton Rose Fulbright
  20. Bryan Cave
  21. Cleary Gottlieb
  22. Paul, Weiss
  23. Crowell & Moring
  24. Alston & Bird

You can see exactly where your firm stands by industry—and overall—and learn how to capture more of these coveted relationships in our newest report BTI Industry Power Rankings 2017.

The Industry Group Ready to Win the Work

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Dateline: June 16, 2017, 10:00 AM Eastern

Gene*, the Retail Industry Chair of a major law firm, asked his partners to put together a list of issues and questions to discuss immediately with clients. “We want to be the first to talk substance with our clients. And this is going to stoke other deals so be sure to bring in the M&A folks. Call every consultant, banker, friend, and former executive you know and report back by COB tomorrow.”

He continued, "Ask them: 'What were they thinking about the Whole Foods acquisition?,' 'What could a competing grocery chain do?,' 'What ideas did these people have?' Let’s mobilize fast. We have to be the first to talk to our clients about this.” By the end of the next day Gene had assembled a master list of ideas and reactions.

As Gene shared the list with his industry group partners, he reminded them: “share these ideas with clients. You want to stimulate thinking and help them. You don’t need to have all the answers, but you need to have the conversation.”

The clients with whom the industry group partners discussed these ideas were thankful and saw them as value added. One client shared these ideas with their top management team. These clients know Gene and his team understand their business and have the collective experience to be a resource.

Clients love industry groups. Law firms are learning to love them too. 27.3% of law firms now organize themselves by industry, up from 11.6% in 2013**.

The law firms with well built-out industry groups have a clear edge. A robust industry group creates an immediate bond, sets an expectation, and suggests you can do a lot more than skim the surface of industry understanding.

Industry groups present a real opportunity. CLOs rank their primary law firms a barely acceptable 8.1 out of 10 in understanding their business—exposing a competitive weakness which you can exploit. (Clients start to pay premium rates for your understanding of their business when it hits 9.1 out of 10.)

Top legal decision makers become terribly, and sometimes irrevocably disappointed if they learn a law firm’s industry group is just a gathering place for attorneys who have charged time to a company in the industry. While some law firms use their industry groups to showcase the deals, cases and all the legal work performed in the industry, clients expect the vast majority of your industry knowledge to go well beyond legal issues. Clients will talk to you all day about such key issues as:

  • Vexing issues facing industry peers
  • Legal staffing strategies and headcount
  • Legal spending ratios
  • New and potential risks
  • Risk management strategies
  • Key industry events

Not only will clients want to talk to you, but they will want to see you again and again and give you their business. As long as you come armed with one nugget which adds to your client’s knowledge base each time you meet—you’re golden.

You can get this insight from your own experience, informal research with clients and partners, or formal research like BTI’s Legal Spending Benchmarks 2016, which we have been publishing since 2002.

Clients say industry experience as articulated in case work does not add value—clients want the hard-to-get tidbits which reflect peer thinking or industry-specific insights they can’t get anywhere else. Your ability to provide these insights is way more convincing than case statistics in pleading your case.

You can see who the industry leading law firms are and where you stand in our upcoming BTI Industry Power Rankings: The Law Firms with the Best Client Relationships in 18 Industries to be released on July 18, 2017. Reserve your copy here.

*Not his real name.

**Based on in-depth BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2016 and April 2017. BTI conducted more than 340 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations.

The Industry Team Advantage

The Mad Clientist provides perspective on how organizing a law firm around industries affects the firm's bottom line.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/BOTI7WYa-rc

We’ll be releasing videos here on The Mad Clientist blog every Tuesday. Subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

Not Your Average Summer Beach Reads

As you load up your e-readers and tote bags with the books you’ve been meaning to catch up on when “things slow down,” please allow me to add a few more recommendations to your lists. These are the books I still think about most long after I’ve put them down:

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This may be the most compelling book I’ve read.  You’ll learn some amazing things you’ll want to adopt—and some you’ll never adopt.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Drive more inspired leadership by focusing on the core reasons your firm does what it does.

Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior by Rorke Denver

A striking look at how balance and calm play a vital role in any situation—especially high-stakes situations.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t also recommend a couple of other additions to your library:

Clientelligence: How Superior Client Relationships Fuel Growth and Profits by Michael Rynowecer

Learn how to drive growth and develop the best relationships with clients—based on in-depth research with 14,000 top decision makers who hire professional services firms.

The Mad Clientist’s ABCs of Client Service by Michael Rynowecer

This fully illustrated book is a light-hearted look at a deadly serious skill: learning how to improve client service.



4 Keys to Winning More Work

Acting as a business advisor sparks conversations and develops relationships before legal issues arise and leads to capturing high-rate legal work from your clients.

Your ability to provide your service in the context of the client’s business will most differentiate you in the eyes of clients. Industry dynamics, current events, emerging regulations, competitor news, and the political landscape are the basis for providing targeted advice to help clients meet their ultimate objectives. Learn more about providing this crucial service to your client’s in my best-selling book, Clientelligence: How Superior Client Relationships Fuel Growth and Profit, available now at www.bticonsulting.com/clientelligence.



4 Steps to Building an Unmatched Client Experience: BTI's Client Relationship Lab

In Phase 2 of BTI's Post-Matter Follow-Up Plan, Jennifer Dezso, BTI Principal, shares the 4 steps to building an unmatched client experience to effectively close matters and win new work. 

By delivering a seamless experience targeted to what your client needs you channel superior service into high-impact growth.

You can view the video by clicking the image below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/L0xkFtJecks

Click to view the video for: Post-Matter Follow-Up Plan—Phase 1.

With this series we’ll be taking an in-depth look at a wide range of client relationship best practices. We’ll be releasing Client Relationship Lab webisodes on our blog every month—subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

7 Stages of the Best Marketing & Business Development Performances

Law firm performance falls into 7 distinct stages based on how many of the 10 power marketing practices each firm adopts. Each law firm falls along a spectrum of marketing and business development behaviors defining how far you’ve come—or how far you have to go. The firms who have adopted more of the tactics show better performance—and in the case of the Pacesetters: vastly better.

Setting the Pace for Law Firms

The Pacesetters, at 10.8% of law firms, currently enjoy 8 times the growth with their top clients than other law firms. Most law firms are showing flat growth in the most important part of their client base; the Pacesetters are making substantial gains with the best and most important source of revenue. But the benefits don’t end here—these Pacesetters boast 4 times the growth in profits per attorney over the last 3 years. These firms are defining the leading edge of performance and show no signs of letting up.

We found pacesetting performance at large, medium-sized, and smaller law firms. The common denominator: they adopt at least 9 of the 10 power practices and integrate these into their firms. The power practices include both infrastructure and behaviors, and Pacesetters have learned to integrate these tactics into revenue-generating machines.

6 groups of law firms stand behind the Pacesetters. These are, starting with the stronger performances:

BelieversClosing in on the Pacesetters

Believers have progressed to adopt 6-7 of these tactics. These firms are in a position to catch the Pacesetters (who have adopted 9 or 10 of the pacesetting tactics) if they can add 2 more tactics to their MBD approach and integrate these new approaches into their firms. We found just as many Believers as Pacesetters at 10.8% of all law firms.

The StridersPoised to Move Forward

Striders are strong performers. The Striders build on their infrastructure and processes to position themselves to quickly move to a market-leading position—if they act. These firms have embraced 4 to 5 of the market-leading MBD tactics, which is just not enough horsepower to drive the firmwide growth or growth in the top client base. BTI’s analysis shows 16.2% of law firms are Striders.

Task MastersReady to Commit

At 24.3% of all firms—Task Masters are the single largest group. These firms have taken the first steps for law firms looking to grow, but have not pulled them together in a cohesive strategy. These firms have successfully implemented 3-4 of the core market-leading MBD tactics. They have focused on discrete strategies and tactics proven to drive pockets of strategic growth and would benefit greatly from adopting more of the 10 power practices.

DabblersStill Getting Their Feet Wet

As a group, Dabblers have adopted a few of the key strategic MBD activities (such as dedicated client teams and tracking client retention), but have not built out the infrastructure or depth market success demands. These firms are less formal in their approach with attorneys and MBD practices in general—only occasionally adopting one of the 10 power practices. Dabblers reap few of the financial rewards enjoyed by their cohorts.

NomadsTrying to Find Their Way

Nomads have adopted only 1-2 of the core MBD activities proven to drive growth and bigger client relationships. These firms are beginning to take steps towards a more advanced law firm growth strategy, but are informal, decentralized, and operate with a small set of tactics. The perils for this group are great as they begin their journey, but the opportunity greater. The risk of not moving forward dwarfs the risk of making changes  to move up the curve. Approximately 11% of law firm are Nomads.

Cave People

14% of law firms are have yet to adopt any of the 10 core marketing and business development tactics proven to drive growth—these are the Cave People. This group has neither a formal strategy nor an established set of tactics they rely on to drive growth. This group doesn’t believe in developing a systematic approach to marketing and business development. The Cave People will find success more and more difficult to achieve unless they change their approach.

Where You Are and What This Means

Almost every law firm is working to get an edge in the market. From adding laterals to launching new websites and adding a new CRM, law firms make changes to help them grow. These steps are valuable, but strategies and tactics sit at the epicenter of growth. 40% of firms (Striders and Task Masters) have some of the building blocks and infrastructure in place. This means about ½ of all law firms have significantly fewer power marketing practices in place—and, the firms with the most power practices will ultimately separate themselves from the pack. The number and nature of the tactics you adopt will define who you are, your growth—and your profits.

Learn exactly what steps to take to make it to the top with BTI’s newest report, BTI Guide to Maximum Marketing & Business Development 2017, where you'll see the details on what the top performers are doing differently than everyone else—and step-by-step tactics for how you can implement, and improve, these programs at your firm.


And don't miss the posts from this week's Marketing and Business Development Week:

Climbing the Marketing and Business Development Mountain [Infographic]

Learn exactly what steps to take to make it to the top with BTI’s newest report, BTI Guide to Maximum Marketing & Business Development 2017, where you'll see the details on what the top performers are doing differently than everyone else—and step-by-step tactics for how you can implement, and improve, these programs at your firm.

Are You Pursuing the Right Clients?

Cracking the code to business development offers significant financial benefits. So why have only a select few—10.8% of all law firms—figured out a marketing and business development strategy to drive faster growth and build bigger relationships than other firms.

Jennifer Dezso, BTI Principal, walks through the first marketing & business development strategy to implement or improve on to join this elite group: selecting and pursuing specific target clients and prospects. 

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/6znpUGtEZWE

For more information or details on this new report, please visit: http://www.bticonsulting.com/marketing-and-business-development-strategies.

What Sets Top Performing Law Firms Apart? [Infographic]

Learn exactly what steps to take to get started on (or improve your firm's use of) the top performing marketing and business development strategies with BTI’s newest report, BTI Guide to Maximum Marketing & Business Development 2017, where you'll see the details on what the top performers are doing differently than everyone else—and step-by-step tactics for how you can implement these programs at your firm.

The 10 Secrets of Pacesetting Law Firms

Only 10 marketing tactics really matter. Out of the dozens of tactics, protocols, and activities available—there are 10 driving superior performance. Time and money at every firm are always at a premium, and everyone—from Managing Partners to Marketing Coordinators—is looking for the secret sauce to stretch every last dollar and every last hour. The firms using the 10 marketing “must-haves” have found the formula to outperform everyone else.

BTI analyzed 160 law firms using more than 25 performance metrics. We then analyzed performance over a 5-year period to eliminate luck and unique, nonrecurring events. Firms embracing a client-focused approach to the market enjoy 8 times the growth with their top clients than other law firms while also growing profits per attorney 3.7 times faster than other firms.

The 10 strategies below drive these outsized performances:

1.  Targeting the Best Clients and Prospects
Revenue growth for firms targeting specific clients and opportunities is 10x–15x higher than it is for firms not taking this approach. Targeting specific clients enables firms to better understand the individual opportunities they are pursuing and craft customized messaging to these clients—increasing the odds of closing new business.

2.  Client Teams—With the Money to Make Them Work
While client teams have long been a structure used by firms to improve client relationships, only 44% of firms have given these teams dedicated budgets to invest real money and time in growing the client relationship. Dedicated budgets fund the activities helping firms make their largest client relationships even bigger—nearly 8 times larger than the firms who don’t make this additional investment in their client team program.

3.  Listening to Clients with Systematic, Objective Client Feedback
The ROI for law firms conducting formal client feedback is staggering: when firms conduct formal client feedback across a broad swath of their clients, relationships with the firm’s largest clients are 4x–6x larger than firms not taking the time to reach out and objectively listen to their clients. What firms learn from a formal client feedback interview gives them the information they need to exceed clients’ ever-rising expectations, better serve clients, and outpace competitors vying to get new business.

4.  Client Service Standards—Words to Live By
Client service standards are a small set of high-impact protocols defining what the client’s experience with every single person at a firm should look like. When firms adopt—and truly live by—these standards, their growth in profits per attorney is 1.5x higher than firms not applying a consistent client service experience across their firm.

5.  Spending Money to Grow
On average, the typical large law firm dedicates 2.5% of the firm’s revenue to marketing and business development. The best-performing firms boost this investment to 2.8%—nearly $8,000 more per attorney—in order to win more work than others.

6.  Spending Time to Grow
The Managing Partners at the top-performing firms spend more than 50% of their time on direct client development activities. The result of these efforts: nearly 2x higher revenue growth and 3.5x higher growth in profits per attorney. The amount of time a firm’s Managing Partner spends on client development is a proxy for how committed a firm is to soliciting input from clients and ensuring their clients’ needs are being met.

7.  The Power of a Formal, Written Marketing & Business Development Strategy
When firms have written objectives and definitions of success in place, relationships with the firms' largest clients are 5x larger than firms without a formal strategy. Additionally, revenue growth is more than 15% higher for firms with a plan for how they want to draw in and keep clients. Having a formal, written marketing & business development (MBD) strategic plan provides a sense of direction and outlines measurable goals for everyone within the firm to use as a guidepost.

8.  Dogmatically Tracking Client Retention
The firms measuring their success at keeping and developing existing clients enjoy 16.5% higher revenue growth and their client relationships are 2x larger than firms not tracking their client retention rates.

9.  Including Goals for MBD in the Firm’s Strategic Plan
Focus the energy, resources, and time of everyone at the firm around the marketing and business development actions required to successfully execute the strategic plan. The firms embracing this approach have seen nearly double the revenue growth of firms not including the MBD goals in the firm’s strategic plan.

10.  The Buck Stops with a Single Individual
Less than 15% of firms have a single individual accountable for the firm’s client service delivery. This often overlooked activity has substantial payoffs for firms. Having an individual committed to ensuring the firm is delivering the highest levels of client service results in 8% higher profit growth per attorney and larger client relationships—nearly 8x larger than firms without an individual assigned to this role.

Each of the above activities on its own substantially impacts a firm’s financial performance, but putting them together forms the most effective toolkit of marketing and business development activities to drive the type of performance few firms achieve. Your competitors might be working on each of these right now. If you’re not, which activity are you going to start with?

Learn exactly what steps to take to get started with BTI’s newest report, BTI Guide to Maximum Marketing & Business Development 2017. We share the details on what the top performers are doing differently than everyone else—and step-by-step tactics for how you can implement these programs at your firm.


Clients Want to Know: Are You Here to Help Me or to Bill Hours

While most attorneys are there to help their clients, they may also be sending loud, unintended messages that derail their client relationships. The Mad Clientist runs through a few scenarios where attorneys are inadvertently telling clients they don't want to work with them. 

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/mwaJUM-LhiI

We’ll be releasing videos here on The Mad Clientist blog every Tuesday. Subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

Business Development Bloopers and Blunders: References

More top legal officers are hiring new law firms than ever. In most cases, clients are hiring firms with whom they have never worked. At the same time the number of law firms CLOs recommend to their peers has declined. The dearth of peer recommendations and lack of experience with the firms are driving these potential clients to check references more than ever before.

Let’s set the stage. You have toiled to prepare the proposal. You have made it through the gauntlet of questions and requests for additional (and often highly detailed) information. You have presented and made your case. You have convinced a potential client you just might be the one. And then…they ask you for references.

Top legal decision makers often share many of their law firm experiences with me as I conduct client feedback interviews and moderate panels. These potential law firm clients tell me they get some pretty remarkable answers from partners when they request references. Decide for yourself below:


“We only give references when we know you are truly going to hire us so we don't bother our clients.”

“We feel our reputation speaks for itself.”

“My work is so sensitive I don’t feel comfortable disclosing who they are.”

“Can it be from a different practice – it will speak to our culture.”

“Can you tell me what you plan to ask them?”

“How much time do I have to get them to you?”

“Frankly, when you reach the status of being a leader in this firm you don't need references.”

Advantages of the Instant Reference

The rainmakers and client-savvy partners always have a list of references at the ready. Instant references show you are prepared, confident, and can anticipate where things might go. Having a set of go-to references also shows you have happy clients who will vouch for you at a moment’s notice. (Of course, you have already asked for permission.)

An answer such as: “Sure, here they are,” or “Can I email these over to you,” or even “Please wait a day before you call them so I can give them a heads-up,” is good with potential clients. Anything else will ensure you don’t get the work. 


Do You Know How Many Competitors You Really Have?

Your clients are working with way more law firms than most realize—and not only that—clients compare you to each of these competitors every time you work with them. Learn how to change your thinking...and change your client relationships.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/07paOv2zsmc

We’ll be releasing videos here on The Mad Clientist blog every Tuesday. Subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

Highest Rates Clients Pay Hit a Wall

The top hourly rate paid for an attorney just hit a wall.

And, this market-topping rate is exposing a few cracks in the wall, if not the very foundation itself. Clients identify $2,000 as the top rate they pay for outside counsel—identical to 2016. This means the 8% annual growth for the top rate paid for the last 10 years is over.*

Not Meeting Clients’ Heady Highest Rate Expectations

First, the bad news—the inability to deliver at the top rates isn’t just a client disappointment—it’s a deal breaker. There is only one reason clients say these otherwise excellent attorneys aren’t worth it—they don’t meet clients’ lofty expectations. Top legal decision makers tell us:

“At this rate I expect my attorney to walk on water, not get their feet wet, and be thinking only about me while they do it. I only needed to hear ‘you’re next on my list’ once and I knew it was over,” says one CLO at a large global consumer products company.

“I expect this attorney to be thinking about things I haven’t ever thought of and bring the strategies to deal with them before I bring it up,” says another top-level client.

“This attorney is excellent but is a step or 2 from amazing. So we will be parting ways when this is over,” indicates a top legal decision maker at a large financial institution, with some level of resignation in his voice.

When You Are Worth More Than the Top of the Market

But, there is some good news—just about half of the clients paying these top rates think this hourly fee is worthwhile. The half who report receiving the highest value at the highest rates talk about 4 key attributes:

  • Total command of the situation—a deep and penetrating understanding of goals and what needs to be done to get there
  • The top rate earner is backed by a team where every single person is equally impressive—not a weak link to be seen or heard
  • Seemingly never having to ask questions—attorneys at the top end of the market always look ahead, make sure their clients are in the know, and are 2 steps ahead of client questions
  • Timely invoices with updates and explanations of what it’s for and what the next invoice might look like

In the words of a top executive at a global pharmaceutical company, “Our lead attorney has such command of our complicated deal, but he was backed by one of the most impressive collaborative teams. I felt the top rate was worth it to have this team working on this deal. The cost of the top attorney was low despite the high rate.”

Or this description from a CLO at a Fortune 100 company: “This was high stakes, very high. I had updates every morning and he always kept me in a position to field calls from my CEO. You just knew he knew what was needed when and it all just went so smoothly.”

Top Rates Change the Client Expectation Game

Clients always have high expectations, but the rules of the game change at the super-premium end of the market. Clients ratchet what they expect to new unseen heights, and meeting these ever-increasing expectations may be the hardest part of delivering value.

There is no turning back. If you don’t deliver on client expectations at the top of the market—reasonable or not—the relationship is likely toast. But, the most client-savvy attorneys in the world know how to manage client expectations, however high and unreasonable, and end up with the top rates, top value, and the top clients.


*Based on in-depth BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2016 and April 2017. BTI conducted more than 340 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations.

Client Interviews with Managing Partners only Scratch the Surface

With your competitors out interviewing wide swaths of their clients, firms who stick solely to Managing Partner interviews are missing out on a catalyst for firm-wide change.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/koatZ1Odmvs

We’ll be releasing videos here on The Mad Clientist blog every Tuesday. Subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

The Most Underrated Trends in Legal Marketing

The best opportunity for growth lies in getting more business with existing clients. The typical law firm can triple the amount of business they get from a single top client. Yet, this is the least appreciated approach to the market.

Client Development Is Used So Little and Offers So Much

The single biggest underrated trend in legal marketing today is client development—by a factor of more than 2. This dovetails with the large number of CMOs who see broad market outreach as overrated and who want to be more focused in their approach. Client development includes the following key tactics:

  • Systematic objective client feedback
  • Client teams and team activities backed by a budget
  • Developing client-specific CLEs and tools
  • Training clients in key issues
  • Training the client team in client preferences and business issues
  • In-person client visits

These may be viewed as underrated because the best-performing firms (from a revenue and profits standpoint) are using these tactics with great success. But, they are generally flying under the radar at most firms. You can start your client development initiative by finding the partners who believe—every firm has them—and build on your success.

Social Media—Love It or Hate It

Social media is the most polarizing of the trends. 13.1% of CMOs see social media as an underrated trend versus 21% who see it as overrated.

Wondering who is right? Start following the attorneys who blog, tweet, or post videos on a regular and systematic basis—at least weekly. Then watch for those attorneys who are thematic and have a story to tell. If the social media outreach continues over time, then you can be sure some kind of high-quality lead flow is behind it. Social media is too much work for no results.

Many legal marketers (and attorneys) have high expectations for their social media outreach—with more than one CMO expecting overnight success. The instant nature of social media defies the amount of time and effort success actually demands. Those who say social media is underrated have built the infrastructure to support the social media efforts and developed the ecosystem to bring in big-time results—including new clients they didn’t expect to get.

Ultimately, we think a small number of law firms and attorneys will get big results from social media. These social media winners will carve out a differentiated brand, a following, and the most attractive clients—because the best clients make it their business to know who the legal thought leaders are—and want to do business with them.

Where the Most Underrated Trend Is Internally Focused

22% of law firm marketing leaders believe bringing work process redesign to their departments is bringing vastly unrecognized rewards. CMOs have too much work and too many deadlines. With processes in place they are able to unlock new levels of productivity. This, in turn, makes their work life happier and they’re able to find more time to devote to higher-level activities. They are using the time to help practices with their strategies and other client-facing initiatives.

These internal work processes include embracing proposal automation, content management (especially for rankings and directories), embedding experience databases in proposal development tools, and more. Not every firm is willing to invest, but the investors can feel the boost.

Is the Sun Setting on Broad Market Outreach?

CMOs don’t want to rely on broad market outreach as their driving force. They clearly want to focus on clients—and specific clients. This includes strategic account programs, client teams, and industry teams. These tactics include strategic prospecting and much more strategic use of content than is in the market today. And finally, it is hard to see success without social media playing a role.

BTI has been helping firms inside and outside of law develop and implement client-centric programs for 27 years. I welcome the opportunity to help you move the over/under to a winning bet. You can reach me directly at mrynowecer@bticonsulting.com to discuss options for your firm. 


*This research is based on interviews with more than 180 law firm marketing leaders conducted over the last 12 months.

Post-Matter Follow-Up Plan—Phase 1: BTI's Client Relationship Lab

Business development with your current clients isn't something that only happens when a new matter is on the horizon. Successful business development starts immediately after your current matter closes.

In this month's BTI Client Relationship Lab we share the first part of a 3-phase plan for continuing post-matter follow up with your client, including a detailed agenda to drive your conversation.

You can view the video by clicking the image below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/GuaGo8pncNo

With this series we’ll be taking an in-depth look at a wide range of client relationship best practices. We’ll be releasing Client Relationship Lab webisodes on our blog every month—subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

Surprise: Directories Not the Most Overrated Marketing Tactic

Who knew?

Common wisdom would tell you the annual holiday card and rankings are the bane of a CMO’s existence. Not true. It turns out broad market outreach is the single most overrated and underperforming trend in marketing today. Our research with law firm marketing leaders shows broad market outreach must be especially unproductive as they see this as more overrated than rankings, which come in 2nd, with social media coming in 3rd. Here’s why:

1. Broad Market Outreach

Shouting out to a wide range of potential clients is tiring and deceptively expensive; yet, it’s 43% of the legal marketing budget. CMOs will tell you it has to be done because partners demand it (and it is easy to confuse having a large crowd on a webinar with marketing success). CMOs know this is not success—it is the tip of the iceberg in the work required to actually attract a new, meaningful client.

But let’s not pick on webinars solely. Broad market outreach includes brochures, sponsorships, monographs, and email alerts. If it’s nonspecific outreach it’s in here.

CMOs who have managed to limit their broad market outreach do so in small steps. They’ve found ways to convert practice leaders and partners to their way of thinking—one at time. These law firm marketing leaders keep detailed records on outreach bringing in clients versus outreach generating attendance. They then argue the partner is better off with clients than attendance. It may be a slow approach—but this is the long game which will win. And, once you persuade one partner to convert broad outreach to something more targeted, your 2nd conversion will be less difficult—and the 3rd will be less difficult yet.

2. The Biggest Surprise: Rankings Are Only the 2nd Most Overrated Trend

Rankings will haunt CMOs for their whole career because of the level of preparation required. Partners like to send the listings to clients to help branding. Firm leadership use rankings to show attorneys where they stand and how things may have changed. Attorneys especially relish having rankings in their bios and for proposals—the winners see them as one more point of differentiation.

Rankings can make certain clients feel better about hiring your firm or an attorney; however, rankings will rarely drive the hiring process. A number of clients may check attorney bios after they have made the hiring decision and feel a bit better when they see some sort of distinction. Rankings will increase a client’s confidence before they get to know you, and will also confirm they’re smart once you have the relationship.

3. Social Media

21% of CMOs can’t see a way to break through the clutter of content flying through the legal ether. These CMOs don’t believe clients pay attention to social media. They also don’t believe their attorneys have the discipline to implement the kind of systematic program which can break through the clutter in a meaningful way.

Social media is still the Wild West for attorneys and corporate counsel alike. We also see more small firms embracing social media as a way to gain a big voice.

Overrated Trends Point to New Thinking

These overrated activities reveal new insight into CMO thinking. Law firm marketers are looking for ways to up their game—including finding places with better odds of generating business. A number of CMOs tell us the primary reason these activities are overrated is they play too big a role in their marketing mix. They want to move their firms to embrace more effective, innovative approaches to developing clients and marketing the firm.

On the other side of the coin, law firm marketing leaders share their underrated trends—strategies which don’t get enough airplay but deliver better returns. We will discuss these next week—stay tuned or subscribe now.


*This research is based on interviews with more than 180 law firm marketing leaders conducted over the last 12 months.


Winning the AFA Game

Learn the 6 steps law firms take to win the AFA game in this week's Mad Clientist Minute.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/NO5cIfWOsV4

You can view the first video in our AFA series—Spending Under AFAs Soars, Are Your Clients Using Them?—here: https://youtu.be/-fTAcgjdMjw

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