Two studies published either side of the Easter break have caught my attention.
One from the Legal Marketing Association in the USA reports increased spend on marketing and BD. The other from NexisNexis and the Judge Business School at Cambridge University suggests an ever greater disconnect between law firms and their clients.
It would appear that law firm marketing is not working well, broken even, and the answer is to throw more money at it.
I'm delighted, obviously, that law firms are spending more on their marketing. I also happen to think it is, largely, working well.
But there is a weak spot - there always has been. Professional services marketing is more enabling front line staff - partners - to do marketing.
Some are excellent, most embrace it, yet it is rarely top of their list.
Top of the list is the work in hand and their client/s. And here is the second weak spot - a considerable amount of legal work can be done without really knowing and understanding your client's business.
That is of course a broad generalisation - there are some lawyers that live and breath their clients - but there are many more that don't and don't need to to keep billing. That needs to change.
A recent study of the British legal market commissioned by LexisNexis and Judge Business School at Cambridge University contains a stark finding: ‘There is unambiguous evidence of a significant and persistent disconnect between law firms and their clients.’ The disconnect has resulted in a steady migration of work from firms to corporate legal departments as well as a growing client receptivity to service providers and other non-traditional sources for legal services. The LexisNexis survey cites three persistent causes of the client/firm disconnect: (1) clients want solutions and law firms offer advice; (2) law firms strive for perfection while clients generally want a ‘good enough’ basis to solve a problem--this varies with the value a client assigns to a matter; and (3) law firms fail to provide cost and time predictability.