The next few years are likely to be a period of relentless change for law firms – with new competition, more regulatory battles, and too many solicitors chasing too little work. This is the first in a series of Core Legal  “Top Tips” for law firms not only to survive but thrive in the new legal landscape.
A detailed Powerpoint presentation “10 Steps to a Business Development for the High Street Law Firm” is now available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org 
In these difficult times many firms are just fire-fighting and trying to survive but, in the longer term, if a firm wants to grow and prosper it needs to think seriously about its business development and marketing. There are things that can be done to improve a law firm’s marketing effectiveness even when budgets are tight, the competition may have more marketing muscle, and consolidation is rife.
Effective marketing and business development is about the right collective attitude as much as the right management processes Core Legal member Jon Hepburn of Fedora Consultancy outlines key tips on how to put this into practice within your firm.
- Finding time for marketing and business development is difficult. Try thinking ‘How much time can you not afford to spend on it? This applies even when you are busy. Building relationships requires ongoing commitment.
- It’s as vital as fee earning itself. It involves influencing potential clients and introducers, being innovative in your approach and creating good first impressions in order to win a flow of new work.
- Are you the right person to be doing it? It’s about your interpersonal skills – not your technical legal ability. Set about the tasks with the right attitude and remember that people ‘buy’ people. It’s a cliché but a true one.
- Don’t delay making a decision. There’s an ongoing revolution happening in the legal services sector and delaying strategic decisions until the next Partners’ meeting will get your firm nowhere – literally.
- A law firms’ brand is defined by the staff providing the service. Legal advice is not tangible – your technical legal ability will be assumed but you will be remembered by the service you provide.
- What makes you different? What makes people choose your firm over others? Is this how you want to be perceived? If not, change it. Work with clients to differentiate your firm.
- Getting the message out there. Saturday morning opening, online legal advice – whatever your source of competitive advantage, it has to be communicated. When did you last contact all your existing clients?
- Perceptions of value are not just about price. Price can obviously be a factor in setting yourself apart from the competition – but is that really how you want to compete? It is important but less so for more complex matters.
- Internal communication is as important as client communication. This is extremely important but where many law firms fall down. Co-ordination is vital.
- Be proactive about client feedback and act on the findings – a corporate culture focused on the needs of your clients should give you a source of competitive advantage.
- Make it easy to attract client recommendations – legal services are often a distress purchase and recommendations can be very helpful, therefore very valuable. They are the lifeblood of online and local networking clubs/groups.
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