Last month, the Legal Marketing Association and Bloomberg Law published the results of a research study that was conducted between February and March of this year. “Are We There Yet?” aptly illustrates the continuing journey of legal marketing – the ground that has been covered and the miles that lie ahead. The insights in the publication reinforce what we as legal marketers have been noting for some time: The business of law is in the midst of the biggest shift ever seen.

The survey notes that large-scale trends in technology, economic troubles and changes in buyer behaviors are “driving firms to reconsider the way they develop new business and deliver for their clients.” As a result, the expectations and role of legal marketers in firms are expanding significantly.

Takeaways from the legal survey results encompass everything from budgets, technology and C-suite presence to the dichotomy between attorneys and marketing/business development professionals. Here is a rundown of some of the more notable trends identified in the survey. 

Increased Investment

According to the survey results, 67 percent of attorneys and marketing/business development professionals agree that their law firms are increasing emphasis on business development and marketing. The number-one reason cited by respondents is internal pressure to generate greater revenue. Other stimuli high on the list include:

  • Corporate counsel reducing the number of firms with which they work and in-sourcing more work
  • Pressure from other firms that are marketing effectively
  • Clients requesting new billing models
  • The demand for extensive proficiency in a particular realm of law
  • The increase in RFP and auction-type bidding processes
  • The entry of alternative service providers

Further, law firms have shifted their resources to increase full-time equivalents in areas such as business development, marketing, practice and process improvement, pricing, and competitive intelligence.

Expanding Roles

Because of the ongoing changes within the legal industry, marketing and business development roles are developing and growing to include more focus on strategic activity. Legal marketing roles have expanded into areas such as pricing, process improvement, business planning, coaching, content marketing, client service and client relationship management.

As a positive byproduct, the presence of legal marketing professionals within the C-suite continues to increase. According to survey results, roles are also expanding for attorneys, who note they have found the addition of social media responsibilities to be the biggest change.

Positive Relationships

The dichotomy between attorneys and law firm marketing professionals may have emerged as one of the most significant areas of opportunity in the legal marketing landscape. While 88 percent of attorney respondents and 99 percent of marketing respondents indicate their mutual relationship has improved or remained “relatively positive” over the past two years, a majority of attorneys still describe their relationship with marketing professionals as “challenging at times.” Further, 40 percent of marketing and business development professionals find that attorney buy-in and responsiveness remains at least somewhat difficult to achieve.

Attorneys indicate they are most positive about their marketing professionals’ ability to handle events, provide support for client pitches and build brand awareness. Attorneys are only “somewhat positive” about their marketing professionals’ ability to position the firm strategically, integrate business development into attorney daily workflow and effectively generate new business.

Under-used Technology

Law firms have long been considered to be late adopters. According to survey results, while many tools and technologies are available to attorneys and legal marketing professionals, their full benefits are not being realized, largely due to implementation challenges.

Business intelligence software is identified as the most valuable resource for business development professionals by far, and content generation/management has emerged as the biggest area in which law firms have recently added resources. Attorneys noted that prospecting tools top the list of technology that is inadequate.

What are your takeaways from the Legal Marketing Association and Bloomberg Law report? If you would like to discuss specific ideas or action steps on any of these topics within in your own firm, please contact me, Bethany Early, at bearly@jaffepr.com.