KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — During the opening remarks last month at the 27th Annual Marketing Partner Forum, a live poll showed that the 2020 trend within the legal industry will be the refinement of the client approach followed by the better use of client teams and the evolution of business development.
These results speak to the broader call in the market to transform the law firm business model and have been discussed in all annual reporting from Thomson Reuters & Georgetown Law to Altman Weil.
This innovation will look different at almost every law firm and only time will tell what models bare the most fruit. However, the one consistent piece that transcends business models is the focus on the client. All firms can agree — the client is a key part in the equation especially during a time when loyalty is fickle.
Outside of legal, marketing and business development strategists would lead the charge, however, within legal, those firms that leverage their business development and marketing professionals will make the difference separating the winners and losers.
There is no doubt that this is top of mind for many chief marketing officers industrywide, as the sheer volume alone of those interested in the Marketing Partner Forum’s pre-conference workshop, Predicting Client Attrition stands as proof. Led by Lisa Simon, Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie; Mark Medice, a Principal at LawVision Group; and myself, the workshop focused on how a firm might get started leveraging client analytics to understand attrition.
The insight was eagerly received as marketing and business development leaders oversee responsibilities that center on ownership of the client, they are working to amend the client approach, and many are looking to data to help them do it.
The workshop dove into ways to craft a refined approach, specific to legal leveraging data analytics to stem client attrition. Considering most of the effort within the firm goes into existing clients (that’s understandable, given that they make up an average 80% of a firm’s annual revenue), attrition is a hot topic in a non-loyal market. Couple that with heightened competition and it all plays nicely into the pressure that marketing and business development professionals now feel to help retain clients.
During the session, time was spent outlining the methodology a firm might pursue focusing on the business problem, data capture, analysis application, as well as the “last mile” as Medice referred to the crucial element of ensuring actionable insights are taken and feedback consumed.
Jumping into analytics can feel a bit overwhelming, but Lewis Roca’s Simon shared insight from the ground, advising “not to eat the entire elephant” rather just take one bite at a time. Simon also proposed a few interesting applications where she has dabbled with some luck: for example, understanding client segments and really digging into the data to paint the full story, using generational analysis to help with succession, and collecting net promoter scores to ramp up client feedback.
When workshop participants were asked what comes to mind when they think about leveraging data for client success, opportunity was top of mind for most but not without a side of skepticism seen in responses like antiquated and ignorant that were offered.
That aside, the session elicited some great conversations among participants about the opportunities ahead. Such an analytical initiative can’t be done in a vacuum, of course, and perhaps new skills within the firm will be needed (or can be borrowed from other functions within the organization.)
However, if done correctly, leveraging data to drive strategy and understand clients can be the differentiator a firm may need to refine its client approach and gain market share.