Business Development at Law FirmsThe Grey Matter Team
Over the last few years, there has been a paradigm shift in how law firms are approaching the business facets of their legal practice. In the past, business development was pitted as a concern and responsibility of the senior partners and was safeguarded by the firm’s leadership. As the legal industry has witnessed a structured, metric driven scrutiny from in-house counsels, law firms have been encouraged to find creative ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors and re-examine their business development strategies.
We see both established and emerging law firms have well-resourced and adept business development verticals, employing professionals for roles such as corporate communications, practice development, client development, strategy, legal innovation, legal tech and branding, that work closely with the firm’s partnership.
While lawyers will always remain at the forefront of business development, an intelligent and experienced resource, whether internal or in the form of an external consultant can help strategize effectively, build productivity, save time and create constructive impact. This article aims to throw light on the relevance of investing in business development assistance. It also seeks to apprise lawyers and non-lawyers interested in pursuing this increasingly popular work profile at law firms.
What is business development at a law firm?
Simply put, business development focuses on strategic prospects that may lead to a consequential contact with a prospective client, or attain additional business from an existing client, thereby leading the firm towards sustainable growth and expansion.
What does a high-performing business development function look like at a law firm?
- Building brand reputation and raising awareness: Branding your law firm is about creating a unique identity for your firm. It needs to paint a crisp picture of who you are and what your clients can expect from you. Some of the compelling thought leadership opportunities include a firm’s blogs, digital and website presence, interviews, seminars, conferences and roundtables. Business Development teams help identify targeted opportunities and also assess the impact and value of these activities from time to time. Furthermore, the work done should be showcased efficiently on the right portals to establish your expertise and build reputation. Legal directory submissions, league table submissions and submissions for legal awards can be a good way of getting this process started. Firms can also actively seek memberships and alliances with select business associations, generate and facilitate opportunities at the law school level which are all actively managed and strategized by business development teams.
- Client experience and service: The art of ensuring you deliver the best to your client and retain them is the key to expansion of business today. Business development teams assist with being a step ahead by setting up processes like addressing client feedback, knowledge sessions with existing clients, industry research, identifying client needs, educating clients about the reforms in law and impact on their business by embracing technology and innovation. Hosting social events for clients and setting up knowledge sharing sessions is another way of ensuring excellent relationships with key personnel across client organisations.
- Research & Strategy: Just like Rome was not built in a day, business development is also a slow and steady process that requires time, energy, innovation, thought and data points at every juncture. Business development teams can help with implementing systems for effective usage of the firm’s historic data for strategic business planning, analysing insights into services, trends, targets, clients and competitors are all crucial in the long run.
- New Client Acquisition: Efforts to meet potential clients across new industries, new jurisdictions and spanning various levels at an organisation are imperative in order to acquire new mandates for the firm. Remember to network, keep connects warm and send them any literature that may be of use to them. Conversions happen when conversations happen.
- Building efficient spectrum of operations: Whether it is mapping new leads, leadership trainings, partner trainings or putting down processes for day-to-day operational practice management – business development teams can do all this and more. There is a need to build effective systems in place, ascertain their efficiency and tweak them from time to time. For instance, which new jurisdictions can the firm expand to, when the firm should expand to new and upcoming sectors, when to expand and add new services to the portfolio of the firm are some ways in which BD teams can assist.
Unlike the west, many law firms in our country are yet to realise the potential of well-rounded business
development team. These teams are an integral part of the firm’s management function. The narrative that these teams are mere support functions, is slowly but surely changing. Business development professionals are sure to serve as excellent brand ambassadors, with an insight into holistic capabilities of a firm which can also be an effective means of cross selling.
If you want to learn more about business development or are looking at making a career in this field, you can write to us on [email protected].