Relationship Marketing at Law Firms: Four Best Practices

By Swan, Wilbur | Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing, August 2008 | Go to article overview

Relationship Marketing at Law Firms: Four Best Practices


Swan, Wilbur, Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing


Relationships are the lifeblood of law firms. Strong relationships help retain big clients and open doors to the next big clients. The typical attorney develops relationships to about 1,000 contacts, and a firm of 300 attorneys has hundreds of thousands of contacts in its extended network. But, paradoxically, the larger the organization, the harder it is to identify, coordinate and leverage these relationships. Leading firms have realized the need for and importance of a more systematic process for mapping and managing global relationships. One firm that implemented enterprise relationship management (ERM) described the challenge well: "Our attorneys have developed relationships with thousands of firms and organizations, but before implementing an ERM system we had no way to systematically catalog, search and leverage that information."

For those unfamiliar with ERM, it is software that identifies contacts within the extended networks of all employees, mapping "who your firm knows" by analyzing address books, email traffic patterns, time and billing systems, CRM systems and other corporate data. This thorough, systematic approach has been proven to yield important benefits for the firm: 1) a far more complete picture of strategic relationships than what can be assembled from blast emails, CRM systems, spreadsheets and poking the old-boys network; 2) more detailed information about each contact, benefiting from the combined "wisdom" of your firm's systems and employees; 3) better understanding of the relationships that matter, through use of sophisticated algorithms that rank contacts by "strength of relationship;" and 4) improved efficiency, as ERM systems require no data entry from attorneys or others.

Once firms have a mapping of their extended relationship networks, they are able to market in ways that were not previously practical. Here are four best practices that are quickly becoming standard business development procedures for leading firms--and these firms are willing to speak with peers about their practices.

[1] Collecting Strategic Intelligence on Prospective Clients

Preparation for important meetings with prospective clients continues to become more sophisticated each year. There are fantastic new sources of information, ranging from online public data sources to custom news runs to specialized legal databases. Typically, a key step in the preparation process has been to understand the available relationships. This may have been attempted with a firm-wide email ("Does anyone know the general counsel at ..."), or a search of a CRM system. Finding these relationships is important. Firms don't want to step on the toes of other partners who are already in contact with a prospect. They also want to coordinate efforts and take advantage of every bit of information and goodwill that exists.

One firm had an interesting experience while preparing for a significant meeting with a strategic target client, a large international commercial bank. It made a major firm-wide effort to uncover existing relationships. Over a 10-day period, several staff sent blast emails, called colleagues, checked with the leaders of the financial service practice area and searched the CRM system. They found 16 relationships with the bank, which was considered very helpful. At that time, they had recently installed an ERM system, which had not yet launched. One of the members of the pilot group checked the ERM for relationships to the target bank and discovered 64 relationships, which included all 16 found previously. And this took one minute, instead of two weeks.

[2] Capitalizing on Event and News Triggers for Prospecting

Breaking events and major news (ranging from lawsuits to merger talks) create opportunities to discuss legal services. But many opportunities require an immediate response, and there isn't time in the day to track down all pre-existing efforts regarding a potential client.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Relationship Marketing at Law Firms: Four Best Practices
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.