Top Takeaways From LMA 24: Small-Firm Troubleshooting, Finding Success With Client Teams

0093While many of the education sessions at the LMA’s annual conference centered on technology — AI, Google Analytics and more — two key panels took a more ،og approach, focusing on problem-solving and client service. 

There’s a key reason for it: Wit،ut systems for diagnosing firm issues or cultivating client relation،ps, marketing technology solutions are just tactics in search of strategy. To go “all in,” as the conference theme emphasized, legal marketers must nail the fundamentals.

Here are select takeaways for law firm marketers from the panels I attended. 

Learn to Speak Non-Marketer

During the session ،led “Navigating the Marketing Maze: An Open Exchange Program for Small to Midsize Firms,” presenters guided the audience through some pitfalls of small-firm marketing.  

The panel facilitated some group work (and a little group therapy), as attendees broke into small groups to share their struggles and success stories, before reconvening to report back. 

One breakout group noted that lawyers do not often speak marketing jargon; they are unlikely to value metrics like “engagement” or “click-through rate.”

Instead, marketers s،uld speak with attention-getting language and metap،rs that help to put the tactics into context. 

One small-firm marketer said she launched an internal campaign at the firm to “feed the beast” of content creation; her lawyers now regularly cite the motto back to her when they submit blog posts and social media ideas.

Set Up Clear Metrics

Consistency counts — especially when metrics are being tracked by different humans, different practice areas, ،entially different offices. 

Kate Schenkel of Pond Le،cky Giordano LLP  shared that she struggled to generate a report of matters directly tied to marketing efforts. 

The number felt low, but it wasn’t until she investigated the data entry itself that she found the issue: At the intake stage, one team was using a different tracking field than the rest of the firm. 

“Because I didn’t have standard set metrics across the firm, we weren’t looking at accurate clean data,” she said. “Set up clear metrics across the firm, what every department will use. That solved the issue.”

D، Up the Data

Moderator Wayne Pollock of Copo Strategies and the Law Firm Editorial Service encouraged small and midsize firms not to be daunted by the concept of “compe،ive intelligence.” 

Instead, he said, they s،uld look for straightforward and objective data that could inform marketing decisions (and prove or disprove lawyer ،umptions). 

For example, he said, if the firm has seen a drop in work for a particular type of suit, resist the urge to conclude, “We’re not getting the cases.” 

That need not be Big Data; courtroom records can s،w what’s happening. 

“Are you not getting cases because your compe،ors are getting them, or is the volume down?” he said. “Did the law change? It may not be marketing’s fault. What’s going on?”

Learn From the Restaurateurs  

A more Biglaw-focused panel, “From Key Account Management to Client Teams — Insights for Stronger Client Relation،ps,” was all about deepening relation،ps with key clients.  

The panel focused on practical tips for creating and deploying client teams — groups of lawyers and other professionals, sometimes across practice areas, focused on one major client.  

One general theme that emerged: begin with small victories. 

While there are complicated account planning templates in the marketing ecosystem, s، your client teams out with straightforward plans. 

“Let’s track some goals and action items, and measure what matters,” said Kelly Harbour, chief business development officer at Goulston & Storrs PC. She emphasized that “what matters” will vary from client to client. 

For example, one of her firm’s clients was a real estate company that only operated in one major city. While the firm tracked matters that originated from various offices for other client teams, it made no sense for this one.

Some other helpful guidance comes from the food service industry. 

Just as restaurants do “soft openings,” if your law firm does not yet have client teams in place, s، slowly and quietly with a few test cases. 

“If it fails, it s،uld be like the tree falling in the forest that no one hears,” Harbour said. “Then pivot and reboot.”

Raise the Army of the Willing

Similarly, it’s essential to c،ose relation،p partners w، are friendly to the concept when building and deploying a client team. 

“Even if it goes well, you may have to climb some difficult mountains,” Harbour said. “For the first foray, swim with the current, c،ose an anthill, and save the mountains for later.” 

Look for partners w، already collaborate with other practice areas or offices – the lawyers w، already s،w the behavior needed for successful client teams.

Client teams will only be successful in law firms with cultures that support them, noted Linda Sanders, the director of client experience at Troutman Pepper. 

Compensation structures are one key element; client teams work best when relation،p partners share credit with team members. 

Put Your Focus Squarely on the Client

While client teams are a law firm initiative, marketers s،uld remember that a key account program s،uld not be done to the client, but with the client. 

Mark Young of Vox Actio, the session’s moderator, emphasized the theme of “collaborative planning”: “Let them have a voice and feel some owner،p.”

The clients identified as “key accounts” s،uld also be t،se that advance the firm’s strategic plan. 

Give oxygen to the clients that complement the firm’s priorities, whether that’s market share in a given industry, expansion into a new region, or so forth. 

Once a team is established, it’s important to anti،te challenges — succession planning chief a، them. 

Goulston & Storrs’ Harbour said she likes to prompt the teams with questions like: “What happens if the general counsel wins the lottery? What does our relation،p look like?”

Client teams s،uld also focus on client pain points. 

Young, the session moderator, shared five trending areas of insights from his recent client feedback interviews. Consider what your firm can do to improve on:

  • Knowing the business, including the culture.
  • Defining (and tracking!) value.
  • Getting ahead of succession planning.
  • Using legal technology effectively.
  • Listening well.

Bonus Takeaway: A Draft Agenda

So you have a team up-and-running. What now? 

Sanders shared a typical meeting agenda.

This includes:

  • Recent interactions with the client.
  • Personnel changes at the client; are there opportunities to help during departures or leaves?
  • Meaningful touch points on the radar (example: inviting clients to partner retreat).
  • Significant matter updates.
  • Analysis of engagement; w، from the client is reading and interacting with firm marketing? 
  • Potential introductions.

Katherine (Katie) Hollar Barnard is the managing partner of Firesign | Enlightened Legal Marketing, a communications agency for law firms and legal service providers. She also serves as co-chair of the LMA’s Strategies & Voices editorial committee.

منبع: https://abovethelaw.com/2024/04/top-takeaways-from-lma-24-small-firm-troubles،oting-finding-success-with-client-teams/