Betsi Roach, M.I.M., C.A.E.
Executive Director, Legal Marketing Association
To the business of law, marketing matters. Look no further than the fact that 67 percent of attorneys say their firm is increasing its emphasis on business development and marketing efforts.
This data, from joint surveys conducted by the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and Bloomberg Law over the past two years, reveals that law firms continue to increase their investment in marketing. This investment comes in response to growing market pressures — which range from corporate counsel reducing the number of firms with which they will work, to the marketing success of competitors and even rising client pressures. Yet despite mounting external pressures, the number one reason cited for an increased focus on marketing and business development is internal pressure to generate revenue.
Investing in tech
And the number one place marketers said their spend would increase over the next two years is in technology. In fact, looking back over to 2014, the role of technology in corporate law has been on a steady rise. For example, according to data from LMA and Bloomberg Law, over a two-year span, the percentage of law firms with client relationship management (CRM) software in place rose from 51 percent to 67 percent and continues to rise. Likewise, investment in business intelligence has increased 10 percent during that same timeframe, reaching an adoption level of 73 percent.
And as legal marketers continue to widen their scope of responsibilities and become more involved in strategic business-oriented activities, such as pricing, planning, budgeting, and client relations, the need to lean more heavily on technology is essential.
Serving the client
As this level of technology adoption continues to increase, so too do expectations. While many technologies are being utilized within law firms today, their full benefit is not being realized due in part to implementation challenges and the difficulty of aggregating data across systems. Case in point, the fact that virtually all law firms surveyed (96 percent) either have or desire CRM software, but many attorneys see a lack of perceived value.
Despite such challenges as cost, complexity and integration, 63 percent of firms have found new opportunities with existing clients and 54 percent have found leads for new clients through the use of technology tools such as business intelligence.
In fact, the increased use of business intelligence is reflective of a growing client-first perspective, and legal marketers are leading the charge on key client account management, client experience analysis, and advancing client loyalty. Data from LMA and Bloomberg Law shows that legal marketing and business development professionals are clearly focusing business intelligence activities on better understanding their clients through tracking the following: news (87 percent), company information (76 percent) and industry data/trends to prepare for client meetings and deliver news/current awareness updates to attorneys (71 percent).
And now the next iteration in technology investment in law is upon us. Today more and more firms are investing in artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance various areas of the practice.
As it relates to marketing and business development, the ability to use AI in order to identify and qualify profitable clients, predict needs and buying criteria, and optimize channels, content and messaging rise to the top. In terms of strategic planning, intelligence-based planning can open the door to a multitude of additional benefits.
The true impact of AI will come from firm leaders who have a vision for how to use the technology to drive the strategic agenda. Legal marketers are leading the way with thoughtful initial implementations that demonstrate the value of automation. The next step for many firms is to ensure that data across the firm is clean and does not exist in silos. After all, AI cannot deliver as anticipated if it is drawing conclusions based on bad or incomplete data.
What the future holds for legal technology can be hard to predict. But if the past is any indicator of the future, you can be assured that leading firms will continue to invest in the tools that help enhance their strategies, and legal marketers will be at the forefront of those implementations. It’s exciting to imagine what is possible.